Cases of alcoholic liver disease have risen sharply over the last year. Young women are driving the rise in deaths from the disease, experts tell NPR.
At the University of Michigan’s health system, cases of alcoholic liver disease have grown 30% over the last year, according to liver specialist Dr. Jessica Mellinger. Alcoholic liver disease includes cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.
Dr. Mellinger said she has spoken to colleagues at other institutions who agree that cases of alcoholic liver disease have “just gone off the charts.” She noted that drinking a glass or two of wine daily is unlikely to cause alcoholic liver damage. But she and colleagues are seeing patients who have increased their drinking to a bottle of wine or five to six drinks daily. This amount of drinking raises the risk of liver disease severe enough to require hospitalization.
While it can take years for alcoholic liver disease to develop, women can be affected more quickly because their bodies process alcohol differently than men, Dr. Mellinger said.