‘One in five’ in North East could have undiagnosed liver disease

One in five adults in the North East could be living with undiagnosed liver disease, according to the British Liver Trust. The charity’s ‘Love Your Liver’ mobile screening unit visited Newcastle, Sunderland, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough last month and scanned passers-by interested in finding out about their liver health. Of just over 180 people scanned, 35 were sent for further tests.

Hospital admissions for liver disease in the region are above the national average as a result of both high levels of alcohol consumption and increasing levels of obesity. Last year saw alcohol-specific deaths in England rise by more than 20 per cent, with – as in previous years – the North East recording the highest increase (https://www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/alcohol-deaths-up-by-21-per-cent/).

Pamela Healy: One in five of us at risk

‘One in five of us are at risk of liver disease and the numbers of people being diagnosed have been increasing at an alarming rate,’ said the trust’s chief executive, Pamela Healy. ‘Liver damage develops silently with no signs or symptoms and people often don’t realise they have a problem until it is too late. Although the liver is remarkably resilient, if left until symptoms appear, the damage is often irreversible.’

Meanwhile, a new report by Public Health Scotland has found that minimum unit pricing’s (MUP) impact on alcohol-related crime has been ‘minimal’. Although off-trade alcohol sales have fallen since MUP was introduced in May 2018, analysis of Police Scotland data by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University found ‘no statistically significant’ reduction in levels of alcohol-related crime, disorder or public nuisance.

Dr Karl Ferguson: Understanding the impact of MUP is important

‘Understanding the impact of MUP on social harms including crime and public safety is an important aspect of the overall evaluation,’ said Dr Karl Ferguson, public health intelligence adviser at Public Health Scotland. ‘The findings of this research are in line with previous Public Health Scotland studies which reported limited evidence of increased theft or illicit substance use as a result of MUP. These studies included research into how MUP affected small retailers, people drinking at harmful levels, and children and young people.’

Evaluation of the impact of alcohol minimum unit pricing (MUP) on crime and disorder, public safety and public nuisance at www.publichealthscotland.scot

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