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Liver disease rate one of highest in Europe

SCOTLAND has one of the highest death rates from chronic liver disease in Europe, according to figures.

Data from the Scottish Public Health Observatory shows a sharp increase in the mortality rate for the disease between 1993 and 2003, followed by a decline.

But deaths are still almost 60% higher than they were 30 years ago and almost 70% higher than the average across the UK.

Compared to countries in central, western, northern and southern Europe, only Hungary has a higher mortality rate than Scotland, the Scottish Government said. There were around 13 deaths per 100,000 of the population in 2012.

Meanwhile, in the three-year period 2009 to 2011, mortality rates were over five times higher in the most deprived fifth of the population compared to the least deprived.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: "The death and suffering caused by chronic liver disease (CLD) is far too high and much of the blame lies with our relationship to alcohol. Cheap alcohol comes at a cost to our nation's health and we need to reduce the toll alcohol is taking on our society. It is unacceptable to see that Scotland ranks amongst the worst countries in Europe for CLD. Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion per year. That's £900 per adult: whether they drink or not, that could be put to better use."

The Scottish Government is moving ahead with plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol, with the SNP arguing the move is essential to tackle disease.

Mr Matheson said: "The affordability of drinks with high levels of alcohol is a particular problem we must address and minimum unit pricing is a key part of the solution. The policy will target heavy drinkers of cheap, high strength alcohol. In other words, those most likely to develop CLD."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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