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East Lancashire men who boozed in the '90s 'now paying the price'
LANCASHIRE men who boozed to excess in the 1990s are now paying the price, according to a top surgeon who sees the ‘depressing’ effects of liver disease.
David Chang said he was ‘alarmed’ by new statistics showing the number of people who die from liver conditions in East Lancashire were among the highest in the country.
In Blackburn with Darwen, liver disease was given as a cause of death in 6.1 per cent of cases from 2008 to 2010, which represented 77 deaths. The proportion was 4.3 per cent in the rest of the Lancashire NHS area (515 deaths), compared to the national average of 3.8 per cent.
Mr Chang, a specialist liver and pancreas surgeon at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “These are quite alarming statistics and have serious implications for our community.
“Premature deaths from liver disease are higher and increasing faster in the North West than any other region. The number of deaths has nearly doubled since 1995 and the problem is particularly bad among middle aged men. The drinking culture got worse among the young in the 1990s and we are seeing the effects 15 years later. Many people didn’t think much about drinking to excess and now it’s taking its toll.
“Unfortunately, many of our local population are drinking more than the recommended amounts, which is a reflection of the deprivation levels here, but if it carries on it’s going to end up as a problem for them and the NHS.”
While alcohol accounts for about half the liver disease deaths, Mr Chang said increasing obesity and drug use was also having an impact. He pointed to a three-fold increase in attendances due to fatty liver disease, adding that increasing childhood obesity was a ‘ticking time bomb’ in East Lancashire. Hepatitis B and C, often caused by drug use, can also lead to liver disease.
Asked whether it was frustrating to have to deal with problems that had been self-inflicted, Mr Chang said: “It’s not so much frustrating, it’s disappointing really, when something you know can be avoided is still happening. When you see the end result it can be depressing but we are here to treat people.”
LIVER DISEASE FACTS
- There are more than 100 types of liver disease, which together affect at least 2 million people in the UK.
- The most common is alcoholic liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis
- Each time the liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. It can develop new cells, but this ability is reduced with prolonged alcohol misuse.
- Other types of liver disease include fatty liver disease, hepatitis, haemochromatosis and primary biliary cirrhosis.
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