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[英伦广角] 【整理,标蓝求助】2010-02-13 饮酒须慎

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As a nation we are drinking ourselves to an early grave. Alcohol is one of the prime causes of liver disease, now the fifth most common cause of death in England. And today, the Department of Health will appoint clinical director to tackle the problem.

"How long do you actually want me to spend on?"

Jeanette Shiret hit the bottle after losing her job. She drank a liter and half of vodka everyday. Even though she's now teetotal. Her liver is so badly damaged that she'll die if she turn to booze again. She volunteers with an alcohol action team to encourage more people to get help.

"The pressures, yeah, everyday stress and strain of life. You end up,  sort of like, drinking as a way to hide, hide from the problems, hide from every disgust.  And, I mean, the unemployment rate is not well at the moment. That's going to make people \\\ feel even worse."

According to the British Liver Trust, the UK is the only developed country where liver disease is on the rise. In 2008, just over 16,000 people died from the disease. Deaths have increased by 12% in the last three years, but 95% of cases are preventable. This doctor who treated George Best says urgent action is needed.

"Three fears: advertising, affordability and access, and just as mushrooms go, because the more people drink and the more people around them will drink so it goes on. And you have to tackle those three areas\ if you going to reduce alcohol consumption in this country."

Alcohol accounts for half of all cases of liver disease. Fatty diets and hepatitis viruses, largely caught through drug use and unprotected sex, are also major causes.

"Early diagnosis is going to be the big challenge, I think, because liver disease is very difficult to diagnose at its early stages. Its symptoms are often very vague. And many patients aren't coming forward until they actually have very serious advanced disease which is difficult for doctors to treat and also very expensive for the NHS."

The Department of Health is recently published a strategy to improve drug and alcohol treatment services and raise public awareness of lifestyle risks. It will be up to the new liver tsar to make it work and save lives.

Thomas Moore, Sky News.
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