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Women suffering liver disease 'because they try to drink like men'

Richard Alleyne and Rebecca Smith
21 November 2012

The country has seen deaths from liver disease increase by a fifth over the last decade in direct contrast to other European countries.

It is fuelled by obesity, alcohol abuse and preventable liver infections.

Prof Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, said one of the main problems was our drinking culture that needed to change.

“Our alcohol consumption is out of kilter with most of the civilised world,” she told the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4.

[Related: A 60 second guide to alcohol and your health]

“We really have young people that binge drink and drink too much and it is damaging their livers young.

 “Particularly girls don’t realise that our female livers don’t tolerate alcohol as well as men do. We should drink significantly less than men.

“Part of it is culture and part of it is price. We need to change both.”

She made her comments after publishing her first report on the state of the nation's health which said comprehensive action was needed to tackle the entirely avoidable problem.

Liver disease and cirrhosis now kills 16 people in every 100,000.

Dame Sally said: “My report is a stark reminder of the preventable damage that eating too much and drinking too much alcohol can do.

"Liver disease is one of the few major causes of premature death that is on the increase and urgent action is needed to halt this trend.

“There are simple steps we can all take by cutting down on alcohol, eating less and moving more. Undiagnosed hepatitis B and C are also major causes of liver diseases.

“The NHS Commissioning Board forthcoming liver strategy should help address this.”

Experts said couples sharing a bottle of wine a night were in denial about the health consequences and GPs needed to do more to educate them.

Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: "GPs have to work harder to explain to people that liver disease is a hidden disease.

It has always been called alcoholic liver disease, making people assume it only strikes very heavy drinkers when in fact it is the housewife who puts the children to bed and drinks a bottle of wine a night, even if she shares one with her husband.

Read more on The Telegraph.

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