Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Young Adults Are Drinking Themselves To Death, Study Finds

Young Adults Are Drinking Themselves To Death, Study Finds

Women tend to be less tolerant of alcohol and their livers more sensitive to damage.

Deaths from liver disease have risen sharply in the USA, and doctors say the biggest factor is drinking -especially among young adults. The researchers suspect the economic downturn in 2008 prompted people to comfort themselves with alcohol.

Elliot Tapper, a co-author on the study and assistant professor specializing in gastroenterology at the University of MI, said alcohol is the most common cause of cirrhosis among younger adults.

It's similar to overdose deaths from the opioid epidemic.

"If Mr. Strassman was found at a more advanced stage, he wouldn't be around with us today", Dr. Amit Singal said.

He cautioned, however, that because this is an observational study, it can not prove cause and effect.

But hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, and only one in five people who are at risk actually get screened, even though that screening can save lives.

More people in the u-s are dying from liver cancer. The cases were "driven entirely" by alcohol-related liver disease, researchers concluded.

However, as cirrhosis takes many years to progress, the liver will be able to liver itself if it gets diagnosed early, said Tapper, and losing out weight can help reverse the process of fatty liver disease.


Dr. Raymond Chung is director of the Hepatology and Liver Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. The yearly increase in age-adjusted cirrhosis mortality was highest for Native Americans at 4.0% (95% CI 2.2%-5.7%, P=0.002) and deaths in this group numbered 25.8 deaths per 100,000.

"We do not yet understand why this is happening in this age group, and further study is required to determine whether this is due to sheer quantity or type of alcohol consumed, genetic factors or the presence of other forms of liver injury", Chung said. The two liver specialists drew extensively from federal data in death certificates and from the US Census Bureau.

Between 1999 and 2016, deaths from cirrhosis increased by 65 percent (from about 20,600 in 1999 to almost 34,200 in 2016). The agency said that liver cancer had moved to the sixth-leading cause of cancer deaths in 2016, up from the ninth-leading cause in 2000.

The data published in the journal BMJ shows adults age 25-34 experienced the highest average annual increase in cirrhosis deaths - about 10.5 percent each year. There were increases in mortality from liver cancer in white, black, and Hispanic people and a decrease in Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Deaths due to cirrhosis began increasing by 3.4% (95% CI 3.1%-3.8%, P 0.001) in 2009 and continued through 2016. In many countries, liver cancer is among the top four causes of cancer death.

It is hitting many places especially hard, namely Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and New Mexico, where cirrhosis deaths were highest.

Dr. Tapper's study adds that only one state, Maryland, had a decrease in cirrhosis deaths. The most common factors contributing to cirrhosis are excessive drinking since many years, Hepatitis C or excessive fat build up in the liver, also called as fatty liver disease, said the researchers.

The number of deaths caused by complications from liver cancer in the United States have significantly increased since 2000, according to latest data.

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