Dying for a drink: Sunderland liver disease levels double the UK average

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THE number of Wearsiders dying from alcohol-related liver diseases is almost double the country’s average, shock figures have revealed.

Sunderland has the highest rate of people aged under 75 dying from booze-related liver problems within the region, at 15.6 per 100,000 of the population.

This is nearly double the English average of 8.9 according to the latest figures released by Public Health England.

For females the rate stands at 10.9 deaths per 100,000 – compared to the country’s average of 5.9, while the male mortality rate is 21, significantly higher than the country’s 12 deaths per 100,000.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, North East of England’s Alcohol Office, believes that these figures can be turned on their head – if people take action.

He said: “Liver disease is the only one of five major disease categories that is still on the rise and its victims are getting younger.

“Alcohol is a major contributor to this situation. The good news is that when it comes to alcohol – these cases are preventable.

“We must do more. The fact that the average age of death from alcoholic liver disease is 59 should give the alcohol industry and Government sleepless nights.

“The introduction of a range of evidence-based measures to help reduce alcohol consumption, including a minimum unit price and restrictions on alcohol advertising and availability, is essential if we are to turn back the tide of alcohol misuse drowning our region.” The statistics come just days after council chiefs said that alcohol manufacturers and retailers should pay for the damage drink causes, after it was revealed 151 drinkers died in the city in 12 months.

The Echo revealed last week that inpatient treatment for 2012/13 cost Sunderland taxpayers £4,612,000, compared with £3,465,000 on average for the North East as a whole.

Sunderland City Council leader, Paul Watson, said: “Alcohol has a massive and disproportionate impact on our region.

“It costs us not only in lives, but costs us millions of pounds every year, in terms of damage to the structure of society. It leads to domestic violence and absenteeism from work.

“We really need to get to grips with the people who manufacture alcohol.

“Those who profit from the sale of alcohol should be made to pay for the harm they are causing communities.”