Wearsiders drinking themselves to death – with one in 1 in 10 dying of liver disease aged under 40

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MORE than 120 Wearsiders died from alcoholic liver disease in a three-year period, new statistics released today show.

Figures released by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, reveal that 863 people died from the condition between 2010 and 2012 in the North East.

And a total of 122 of them were from Sunderland.

Even more shocking is the fact that one in 10 deaths occurred in people aged under 40.

The research also shows a 322 per cent increase in hospital admissions for alcohol-related liver disease in North Easterners under 30 – compared to a national increase of only 67 per cent.

Health chiefs today said they were implementing a number of campaigns to try and drive down the number of deaths related to booze abuse.

Balance’s findings come as a major new Lancet Commission calls for radical improvements to address the growing number of deaths from liver disease.

The report, which has been led by doctors and medical scientists, claims that tougher government policies are needed to control excessive alcohol use, as well as improvements in treatment and detection services.

One of the recommendations from report’s authors calls for the introduction of minimum unit pricing, health warnings on alcohol packaging and restriction of alcohol advertising and sales to tackle the problem.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “These latest figures are shocking and highlight the scale of the problem we face here in the North East.

“This needs to be addressed sooner rather than later and that’s why we are urging Government to sit up and take note of the recommendations in The Lancet report if it wants to make a lasting change.

“The report supports our long-term view that alcohol is too cheap, too available and too heavily promoted in today’s society.

“A range of evidence-based measures, such as those highlighted, would help address the harm that alcohol is having on our communities and would go some way to lessening pressures on the NHS.” Balance has long-called for minimum unit pricing for alcohol to be introduced in this country, arguing it will save lives and reduce costs to the taxpayer.

Mr Shevills added: “The introduction of a minimum unit price would focus on the problems caused by cheap, high strength alcohol and on the most vulnerable and deprived who experience more harm, all while sparing moderate drinkers.

“We would also urge the Government to consider stricter guidelines around alcohol advertising and the introduction of health warnings on alcohol packaging.

“Liver disease is one of more than 60 medical conditions linked to alcohol – including seven different types of cancers.

“We recently launched our Think Twice campaign which focuses on raising awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer so people have the information they need to make informed choices about their alcohol intake.”

Councillor John Kelly, portfolio holder for public health at Sunderland City Council, said: “As we can see from these figures, excessive alcohol use is a major issue across our region.

“The city council and its health partners are continuing to remind people through campaigns such as Stay Sober and Dry January that taking a break from alcohol and consuming less is good for your long-term health.

“These figures are a stark reminder of the dangers of alcohol misuse.”