Liquor main cause for liver ailments, say doctors
New Delhi: Calling alcoholism the primary cause for liver-related diseases, doctors advocated restriction on liquor outlets and deglamorisation of alcohol to prevent the menace.
The liver specialists also stressed on alcohol-related education, prevention and research in India and to make liquor more expensive.
Highlighting the lack of proper treatment of liver- related ailments, doctors said there was a need for more investment in research and developing new tools to treat the disease.
Doctors, who are presently in the city to attend an international symposium on alcoholic liver and pancreatic diseases and cirrhosis organised by Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), stressed on the need for a research budget in this area and also take up public health epidemiology study to get to the root of it.
"India needs to take up some big public health epidemiology study. Go out in the communities and discover levels of alcoholism and the prevalence of diseases. That data is needed for public health authorities," Mark Thurz, Professor of Hepatology at Imperial College, UK, said.
"The price of alcohol has to be less affordable so that it gets difficult for people to get it. Otherwise, the consumption will go up. We have to reduce marketing about alcohol and stop glorifying it," Thurz said.
He maintained that banning alcohol increases crime and instead the ban should be implemented on advertising.
In the UK, liver diseases are the fifth main cause of death and in 80 per cent of the cases, the disease was caused by alcohol, he said, adding that while the top four causes of death are decreasing, this one was increasing.
Others at the symposium maintained that it is important to create awareness about alcoholism among adolescents.
"It is very important to educate children from the teenage level and India should have a programme for that. A budget both for research budget and treatment is needed," Bin Gao, chief of Laboratory of liver diseases, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Maryland, US, said.
Asserting that alcohol-related problems are different in India as compared to other countries like the US and Europe, he said, "The problems are different because of the difference in alcohol metabolism and pattern. So, alcohol-related education, prevention and research in India is very important," he said.
Terming alcoholism as a major problem worldwide and asserting that it was increasing in India, Yaron Ilan, Director, department of medicine, Hadassah Medical Organisation in Jerusalem, stressed on the need to innovate better treatment methods to stop the damage, especially in the younger generation.
"A proper education programme to tackle the issue should be designed and first step has to start from home which will result in behavioural changes. The society has to come together and we have to make education about alcoholism and its side-effects mandatory at school level," Ilan said.