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Last Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Liver disease 'doubles in decade'
Binge drinking - generic
The figures brought calls to tackle drinking lifestyles
The number of people in Scotland diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease has doubled in a decade.

Information released to the Scots Tories in response to a parliamentary question, showed figures in some areas had trebled and even quadrupled.

Conservative health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said more had to be done to warn people of the dangers of drink.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has called for a united approach in changing attitudes to alcohol.

Scotland has the highest death rate from alcohol in the UK and the highest rate for liver cirrhosis in Europe.

The number of Scots diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease had doubled from 1,731 in 1996 to 3,541 last year, according to the figures.

There is an increasing concept of 'having a wee party before going to the dancing'
Scottish Executive research report

In the Highlands and Dumfries and Galloway, the figure has nearly trebled and in the Western Isles it quadrupled.

Ms Scanlon claimed that underage drinking was the root of the problem, adding that the laws in place to prevent it had to be "seriously enforced" at all times.

"Lifestyles have changed a lot in the past two decades and we now see women drinking as much as men," she said.

The figures covered acute hospital in-patients only and statisticians warned that not all hospitals may record alcohol misuse in the same way.

ALCOHOLIC LIVER DISEASE 1996 AND 2007 FIGURES
Ayrshire and Arran - 107, up to 234
Borders - 21, up to 48
Dumfries and Galloway - 22, up to 66
Fife - 61, up to 235
Forth Valley - 109, up to 136
Grampian - 132, up to 266
Greater Glasgow - 640, up to 1,201
Highland - 75, up to 210
Lanarkshire - 192, up to 463
Lothian - 275, up to 445
Orkney Islands - 3, up to 8
Shetland Islands - 4, up to 7
Tayside - 92, up to 212
Western Isles - 6, up to 24

Ms Sturgeon said: "We need a renewed emphasis on the burden alcohol places not only on our health service, but on our country as a whole.

"While we can welcome the falling numbers of people developing lung cancer, the rising incidence of liver disease highlights the grip alcohol has over many people.

"Changing attitudes to alcohol will be a long term campaign. A campaign we will need to enforce. A campaign I hope the health service, politicians and the drinks industry will join us in fighting."

Meanwhile, a research report for the Scottish Executive found that young people were increasingly buying and drinking cheap alcohol at off-licences before going out for the night.

The practice of "front-loading", is done to save money as drink is cheaper in off-sales than in pubs and clubs.

The report, by Human Factors Analysts Ltd, also called for stricter enforcement by the courts of penalties for those selling drink to, or buying drink for, under-age youngsters.

It stated: "There is an increasing concept of 'having a wee party before going to the dancing'.

"Not surprisingly all groups including representatives from retail and industry accepted that the main reason front-loading occurred was cost."


SEE ALSO
Liver disease increase in north
18 Jun 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Scottish drink death toll goes up
19 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Alcohol takes toll on Scots NHS
15 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Slight fall in drink admissions
17 Nov 04 |  Scotland

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