Liver Disease Deaths Are On The Rise And The Numbers Are Especially Alarming For A Certain Age Group
Men like to brag about our drinking days.
It’s fun to boast about the sheer tenacity in which we sucked down every goddamned shot that was put in front of us, drank all of the beers, and puked all over every square inch of the house, even if that wild scene only occurred just a few hours earlier.
We might say something like, “Whoa! Man, I’ve never been so drunk in my entire rotten life.”
That is until the next night when the bar gets raised on the shit-faced lunacy, and you end up going down in infamy as that one dude whose affinity for Jack Daniels turns him into some redneck-ninja hellbent on fighting the biggest four or five bastards in the tavern.
This full-throttle, sledgehammer approach to drunken lechery might go on for years, decades even before the body starts to succumb to the hooch in ways other than the occasional touch-and-go case of the beer squirts.
However, there could come a time when more serious health issues start to rear their ugly heads – namely those brought on by a pickled liver. And if a new study in JAMA is anywhere close to accurate, more of us are probably at risk of drinking ourselves into full-blown cirrhosis before it is all said and done.
Look, we’re not trying to be downers here, but researchers at the Alameda Health System-Highland Hospital have found that heavy binge drinking, the kind most of us get into at least once a week, is spawning higher rates of cirrhosis of the liver in Americans these days than ever before.
And it’s not just a situation where drunk bros are ending up in the hospital strapped to life support from liver damage in their geriatric years, this disease is apparently catching up with many younger adults.
Lead researcher Dr. Robert Wong says he felt the need to conduct this study after seeing more of his patients in an advanced stage of alcoholic fatty liver disease.
“The most concerning finding was that the number of patients with more advanced disease, which increases the risk of dying, increased significantly over the time period we studied,” the doctor explained.
This is not the first time a piece of buzzkill research has emerged showing us that we’re all doomed to die an excruciating death if we don’t stop hitting the bottle so hard. It was just last year that a study out of the University of Michigan found that deaths from alcohol-related liver disease have increased by around 65 percent over the past twenty years.
The majority of the cases were millennials between the ages of 25 and 34. This demographic is dropping like flies at a rate of 10 percent higher each and every year – all because of an overly enthusiastic lust for the liquor.
What’s really frightening is that it doesn’t take long to reach the booze-fueled liver quiver of death.
“It only takes about 10 years of heavy drinking to actually lead to cirrhosis,” liver specialist Dr. Haripriya Maddur of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, told NBC News.
Okay. Well, shit. How much booze is too much?
Unfortunately, it looks like only three drinks or so a day is enough to toss a man’s liver into a tailspin. The female persuasion gets a little more leeway.
Two or more drinks a day is about all it takes for women to taunt cirrhosis.
We realize this news may put a damper on the Summer boating season. We’d have to check, but maybe there is some kind of maritime wizardry out there that makes our livers damn near bulletproof while in open waters.
We’ll get back to you.
It is important to understand that more common substances than just alcohol hurts the liver. Too much refined sugar from all of those sodas and candy that people consume regularly can be super destructive to this vital organ. In fact, some studies have shown that sugar is just as damaging to the liver as alcohol.
There is also a plethora of herbal supplements and even common pain relievers such as acetaminophen that can contribute to liver failure.
Being overweight is certainly a factor, and of course, so is all of the trans fats from those processed snack cakes and other convenience store fare that turns a man into a fat bastard in the first place.
But alcohol gets most of the blame for a reason.
Americans binge drink (the act of consuming five or more drinks in a span of two hours) around 17 billion alcoholic beverages a year. Some of the latest statistics from the CDC show that 37 million of us engage in this behavior at least once a week.
And, unfortunately, around 88,000 of us each year don’t make it out alive.
Geez, we might expect to see cirrhosis appear in older people who have spent their whole lives drinking in excess, but never would we guess that those younger than 30 are being taken out by this condition.
Still, that’s precisely what is happening, according to Dr. Elliot Tapper, a liver disease specialist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan.
“If you were to come with me on my rounds in the hospital you’d see that in every other room there is a 28-year-old or a 30-year-old with severe liver disease,” said Tapper. “There have been studies in the last few years that suggest that amongst millennials about 40 percent will report binge drinking in the past month. That means it’s basically become a part of the culture for the American millennial. There’s no historical precedent for that.”
Okay, the time to start watching yourself is now.
Some early signs of liver damage include yellowing of the skin and eyes ( jaundice), fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and dark urine.
There may also be stomach pain and swelling, itching and pale or tar-colored stool. If any of these warning signs start to appear, it might be time to take a little break from the bottle – wouldn’t you say, Jim Morrison? If you don’t, it won’t be long until you break on through to the other side.
The good news is you do not have to go full on sober to lessen your chances of getting liver disease. Many are turning to marijuana as an alternative to drinking.
Studies have shown that people who replace alcohol with cannabis can avert liver-related health problems.
“Among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis (dependent and non‐dependent cannabis use) showed significantly lower odds of developing alcoholic steatosis (AS), steatohepatitis (AH), fibrosis, cirrhosis (AC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC),” a study published in Liver International concluded.
Look, do what you want, just know the risks of your chosen lifestyle.
As for us, well, we’ll never deny a stiff drink. But we’re also going to smoke, eat and drink all of the cannabis products we can get our hands on.
This might not save our lives, but it’s going to be a hell of a good time while it lasts.
[via NBC News]
More From Mike: