Liver Cirrhosis Deaths on the Rise in the United Kingdom

Researchers particularly alarmed by increasing cirrhosis mortality in Scotland

FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Since the 1950s, the United Kingdom has seen the sharpest increase in death rates from liver cirrhosis in western Europe, according to a study published in the Jan. 7 issue of The Lancet .

Using 1955-2001 data from the World Health Organization Mortality Database, David A. Leon, Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a colleague calculated cirrhosis mortality rates for all ages and specific age groups in Scotland, England and Wales, and compared them with rates in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Between 1987-1991 and 1997-2001, the researchers found that cirrhosis mortality in Scottish men more than doubled and increased by more than two-thirds in English and Welsh men. They also found that mortality in Scottish, English and Welsh women increased by almost half. Noting that alcohol consumption has doubled in Britain since 1960, the researchers voiced concern that cirrhosis mortality is increasing in Britain, but decreasing in other western European countries, primarily because of declining alcohol consumption in the wine-drinking countries of southern Europe.

"Current alcohol policies in Britain should be assessed by the extent to which they can successfully halt the adverse trends in liver cirrhosis mortality," the authors conclude. "The situation in Scotland warrants particular attention."

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