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Most Alcohol-Related Deaths Due to Liver Disease

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Drunk-driving crashes and alcohol overdoses may get more public attention, but research shows that most alcohol-related deaths are caused by something much more mundane: liver disease.

Science Daily reported April 24 that researchers found that alcohol consumption was responsible for 3.8 percent of all deaths in Portugal annually, with 28.3 percent of deaths caused by liver disease. Other leading causes of alcohol-related deaths included auto crashes (26.2 percent) and cancer (21 percent).

Alcohol-related diseases accounted for 1.25 percent of all health expenditures in Portugal, researchers led by Helena Cortez-Pinto of the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Lisbon also found. “By quantifying the significant impact alcohol has on the nation's health, we highlight the need for effective strategies to promote lifestyle changes and moderate alcohol consumption to reduce death rates, the incidence of liver disease and related costs to the healthcare system,” said Cortez-Pinto.

The research was presented at EASL 2009, the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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