According to Australian specialists young women between the ages of 20 and 29 are increasingly being treated for advanced liver disease as a result of steady and dangerous drinking since their teenage years.
Doctors have warned that even professional women are becoming the victims of liver disease and having to be hospitalised for alcoholic cirrhosis.
According to figures obtained from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the number of hospital admissions from alcoholic liver disease almost doubled in the 15 years to 2009. The number increased from 2976 to almost 6000 during this time period.
The following excerpt from an article which appeared on Smh.com.au explains further:
”We are used to alcoholic liver disease in middle-aged men but scarily we are seeing a significant number of women in their 20s and 30s in this situation,” Simone Strasser, a liver specialist and spokeswoman for the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, said.
”These are young professional women aged 25 to 35 who are functioning in other areas of their lives but are drinking at consistently risky levels,” Associate Professor Strasser said. ”They have busy lifestyles and think it’s not doing them any harm.”
The post went on to quote an addiction medicine professor, Paul Haber from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital who said that the increase in alcoholic liver disease, both early and late stage was evidence that young people, particularly women are extending their “adolescent lifestyles” into their twenties. He went on to state:
”It’s an urban disease and a disease of affluence,” said Professor Haber, who is leading a clinical trial of the muscle-relaxing drug baclofen to treat alcoholic liver disease. ”Young people have more money and are less encumbered than they were 30 years ago.”
Women seem to be especially susceptible to the toxic effects of alcohol because of their weight which is generally lower than their male counterparts and also because they have fewer enzymes to break down alcohol when compared to men.
One of the trial’s co-researchers Kirsten Morley also said that women in their thirties were becoming susceptible to the disease particularly those who work in high volume, fast paced, traditionally “male” environments where in the past drinking on a daily basis is the norm. Morley went on to explain:
”Women often get caught up in what is socially acceptable. They might be drinking to help anxiety or as a social lubricant.
”Because people have the perception this is something that happens to old men, there is a stigma attached, which has prevented patients from seeking treatment.”
According to Morley most people she saw during the trial consumed at least 6 standard drinks a day, with 4 or more being classified as “heavy” drinking. These people had generally engaged in this drinking behaviour for more than 10 years, making them susceptible to the disease.
This is yet another reason why Responsible Service of Alcohol is an important requirement for anyone who works in the hospitality industry serving alcohol at a licenced venue. When serving alcohol, RSA staff such as waitrons, bartenders etc. should keep in mind the consequences associated with excessive consumption and consider the role they play in ensuring people do not abuse alcohol.