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Liver Disease | Liver Disease ‘epidemic’ Warning

Hospital admissions for alcoholic liver disease among people in their early-30s in north-east England have increased by more than 400% over eight years.

It compares with the national rise of 61% and is described by local liver specialists as an “epidemic”.

The figures were produced by health campaign group Balance which wants a review of alcohol advertising.

However, the drinks industry body the Portman Group said the vast majority of people drank sensibly.

Specialists argue the cost of alcohol and the way it is promoted have created a drinking culture.

Balance’s figures found 189 hospital admissions for 30 to 34-year-olds in 2010, compared with 37 in 2002.

The organisation also highlights hospital admissions among people in their 20s and in their teens.

Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals liver specialist Dr Chris Record said: “Only a few years ago alcoholic liver disease was very unusual in this age group and, unless our drinking habits change, the problem is only set to worsen.

“The earlier the age at which children drink, and the more they drink, the greater the chance of developing serious liver disease in adult life.

“Many patients are now presenting with terminal liver disease in their late-20s and early-30s.”

Joanne Patterson, 41, from Sunderland, was diagnosed with cirrhosis and chronic liver disease two years ago. She had been drinking three bottles of wine, as well as lager, every day.

She now has to take 90 to 100 tablets a week and had spent 300 days in hospital in the past two years.

She said: “What’s to say it’s not going to happen to anyone else, because I never thought I would get this much damage from drinking.

“But I have done and it’s irreversible damage and I have to take tablets for the rest of my life. My liver could fail at any time.”

Balance is running a campaign calling on the government to prevent alcohol advertising on television, social networking sites and in cinemas, unless an 18-certificate film is showing.

It wants an end to the sponsorship of sporting and cultural events by alcohol manufacturers.

The organisation was set up in 2009 and aims to change attitudes to alcohol. It is funded by the North East Primary Care Trusts.

Balance director Colin Shevills said:

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