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High-Risk Drinking Could Further Increase Liver Disease

Interventions to address high-risk drinking needed to cut cirrhosis, mortality

WEDNESDAY, June 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Without substantial changes in drinking, the disease burden and deaths due to alcohol-related liver disease will worsen in the United States through 2040, according to a study published in the June issue of The Lancet Public Health.

Jovan Julien, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and colleagues developed a model to project trends in alcohol-related cirrhosis and deaths in the United States up to 2040 and assessed the effect of potential changes in alcohol consumption on those trends. The model assessed three projected scenarios, including the status quo scenario; a moderate intervention scenario, in which trends in high-risk drinking reduced to 2001 levels under a hypothetical moderate intervention; and a strong intervention, in which high-risk drinking decreases by 3.5 percent per year with a hypothetical strong intervention.

The researchers found that under the status quo scenario, age-standardized deaths due to alcohol-related liver disease would be expected to increase from 8.23 per 100,000 person-years in 2019 to 15.20 per 100,000 person-years in 2040, with 1,003,400 projected deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, resulting in 1,128,400 disability-adjusted live-years by 2040. Age-standardized deaths would increase to 14.49 per 100,000 person-years by 2040 under the moderate intervention scenario, with 35,300 fewer deaths than under the status quo scenario (3.5 percent decrease). Under the strong intervention scenario, age-standardized deaths would peak at 8.65 per 100,000 person-years in 2024 and decrease to 7.60 per 100,000 person-years in 2040, with 299,100 fewer deaths than under the status quo scenario (29.8 percent decrease).

“Substantial changes in drinking culture and interventions to address high-risk drinking, like those implemented for smoking control since 1964, are necessary to curb alcohol-related liver disease trends,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

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