New data shows an alarming rise in alcohol-related liver disease deaths following Covid-19 restrictions
The British Liver Trust has called for immediate action as new data released this week confirms that COVID-19 has exacerbated the UK’s liver disease epidemic.
New ONS figures reveal that 6,985 people died from alcohol-related liver disease in the UK in 2020 – equating to an increase of nearly 20% from 2019 and more than 80% from 2010.
“This new data confirms our fears that the increase in alcohol consumption and the disruption to alcohol support services during the pandemic has sadly led to thousands more deaths from alcohol-related liver disease,” says Vanessa Hebditch of the British Liver Trust.
Following lockdown in March 2020, supermarkets saw their sales of alcohol surge. Meanwhile, alcohol support services were significantly reduced.
“This must serve as a wake-up call to the Government that the UK urgently needs a joined-up plan to address the liver disease crisis as the UK recovers from Covid,” says Vanessa.
“They also need to tackle the affordability and acceptability of alcohol in our society.
“Drinking alcohol to excess is the leading cause of liver disease in the UK.
“A common myth is that you have to be an ‘alcoholic’ to damage your liver. The truth is that more than one in five people in the UK currently drink alcohol in way that could harm their liver.”
Although there are many causes of liver disease, excess alcohol consumption is the most common cause in the UK, accounting for around 60% of all cases.
There are often no symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease in the early stages, and when symptoms do appear they can be vague, such as feeling tired and a loss of appetite.
Unfortunately, this means that in many cases alcohol-related liver disease is only diagnosed at a later stage when significant damage has already been done and treatment options are limited.
The British Liver Trust is the largest UK charity for all adults with liver disease. The charity works across the UK to increase awareness and influence decisions that will improve care, treatment and outcomes for patients.