Liver disease fuels dramatic jump in deaths

Posted at 2:30 p.m. on July 19, 2018

The Brillion News

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A new study by the University of Michigan shows a dramatic and worrisome rise in deaths caused by cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Both diseases are related to heavy drinking of alcohol.

The study encompasses the entire United States, but found four state are being hit the hardest: Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and New Mexico. Every state is experiencing an uptick in liver disease deaths except for the State of Maryland. The increases seem to be tied to increased consumption of alcohol.

The study found that death from cirrhosis climbed by 65 percent between 1999 and 2016. Liver cancer death rates doubled in that same time span. Whites, native Americans and Hispanics bore the brunt of the death rate increases. Black death rates stayed essentially the same, while rates for Pacific Islanders dropped marginally.

From 2009 through 2016, Kentucky, California and Louisiana had the largest increases in deaths due to alcohol-related cirrhosis; West Virginia, Iowa and Nebraska high he biggest increase in death related to alcohol use disorder. Increases in cirrhosis-related deaths disproportionately grew among the 25 to 34 age group.

Wisconsin has seen an increase in cirrhosis deaths since 2008, but the rate where was already significant before them. The death rate due to liver cancer here has been consistent, and higher then the national average.

The study showed increases in cirrhosis deaths after the recession of 2008, and one of the researchers believe economic uncertainly led to heavy drinking, particularly among young adults, and that led to liver disease.

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