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Alcohol: Liver's worst enemy

That alcohol is a deadly potion was brought home in a very uncomfortable manner when it was announced that George Best, arguably one of the greatest footballers' died in London yesterday. //

Best had had a liver transplant in 2002 after his own liver failed in the aftermath of his boozing exploits. But this is just one case. Millions of people the world over, mostly male, suffer from alcohol-related liver disease each year. It is estimated that liver disease, cancer and alcohol poisoning account for thousands of death each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that it is the third biggest killer after tobacco and hypertension that is high blood pressure. 'Alcohol is a major risk to public health. Smoking causes more deaths, but the number of smokers is on the decrease,' said Colin Drummond, professor of addiction psychiatry at St George's Hospital Medical School in south London. 'Drug taking only kills a few hundred in comparison, yet the government spends more on tackling that. Drinking, by comparison, is on the rise and too little is being done to help.'

A recent report had said that the UK was one of Europe's worst offenders' with alcohol consumption rising by 15 percent over the last five years. It remains the single biggest cause of liver disease and is responsible for more than 75 percent of hospital admissions due to the same. Excess alcohol consumption leads to fatty liver then to cirrhosis of the liver and then liver failure. It also remains the major culprit in the causation of liver cancer. However, a limited quantity of alcohol is beneficial in heart disease, strokes, breast cancer, mouth and stomach cancers and osteoporosis. 'Too many people think their drinking is not a problem, but you do not need to be dependent on alcohol for it to cause short and long-term problems,' said a spokeswoman for the charity alcohol concern.
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