Alcoholic Liver Disease or ALD is a very common condition in people who are prolonged and heavy drinkers and are dependent on alcohol for their survival.
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ALD has three forms: fatty liver, cirrhosis, and alcoholic hepatitis. Prior, alcohol consumption was mostly seen in males but, recently there is a significant increase in alcohol consumption in females also. This is due to the decline in the social stigma attached to female drinking and ease of availability of alcohol.
Premature deaths among men and women
The women have an increased risk of suffering from alcohol-related liver disease and show the signs of bad liver. The death rates are higher in men as compared to women but the gap is getting narrower day-by-day. Prior, the ratio of male to female death due to ALD was 3:1 which has narrowed down to 2:1. The death rate has caused an alarm amongst the health experts.
There are numerous researches that show the increase in the death rate amongst both men and women has increased drastically due to ALD. Even the premature death at the ages 25-34 is a matter of serious concern. It is generally seen that it takes about 10 or more years of continuous drinking that may cause liver disease. So, mortality before the age of 35 years is a serious health concern and is also an unusual scenario. But, statistics have shown that there is a tremendous increase in alcohol consumption amongst the younger age group and they show signs of bad liver at an early age.
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine had carried out a survey and identified the patterns of premature death due to liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption. The study documents that the socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors had a significant impact on the mortality rate. It was observed that the mortality rate was more in non-Hispanic whites as compared to non-Hispanic blacks.
Impacts of Alcohol Liver Disease on health of men and women
ALD seems to have a severe impact on the health of the people especially those between 25-69 years of age. The gap between the death rates of men and women is decreasing and is more in younger women aged between 25-34 years. There seems to be a rapid increase in the death rate of women but the reason is still not very clear as to why women are more susceptible to ALD. There are some assumptions that may support this belief but are not conclusive. Women are more susceptible because:
- Women have less water in their bodies that cause a higher concentration of the presence of alcohol in the blood that may easily damage the liver and show signs of bad liver.
- Alcohol allows the entry of bacterial endotoxins in the body by boosting the permeability of the gut leading to liver inflammation.
- After a single drink, there are high levels of endotoxins present in women as compared to men.
The women succumbed to this disease two to three years earlier than men. The reason may be attributed to the high occurrence of alcoholic hepatitis in younger women due to increased alcohol intake. Obesity in women may also contribute to high mortality.
It is of utmost importance that there should be policies that enforce people in reducing the consumption of alcohol. There should be better access to the high-quality treatment of ALD. People should lookout for signs of bad liver and immediately consult a doctor that will surely help in decreasing the mortality rate. Abstinence programs should be organized and people should be educated about the ill-effects of alcohol. Alcoholics should be engaged in discussions and should be encouraged to restrict or completely stop the consumption of alcohol.