Drinking themselves to death: Liver cancer toll rises by 43 per cent

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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LIVER cancer death rates have risen by 43 per cent over the last decade, prompting concern about how much alcohol is being consumed in Scotland.

The increase came to light when the NHS Information Services Division published its “Cancer Mortality in Scotland” report for 2014.

Ministers need to look again at how we teach people about the health risks of alcohol”

JIM HUME

The official NHS statistics have revealed 535 people lost their lives to the disease last year, compared with 324 in 2004. When NHS statisticians factored in the age of patients plus other factors and fluctuations, they calculated this amounted to a 43 per cent rise.

The report showed that a total of 15,746 people in Scotland died from all forms of cancer.

The increasing death rate from liver cancer went against the trend for other cancers. Mortality rates for men suffering from all forms of the disease have dropped by 15 per cent over the decade. Women have seen a smaller cut of six per cent.

Jim Hume, the Lib Dem health spokesman, said: “What this underlines is that we need to get serious about tackling Scotland’s drink problem.

“The moves we have seen towards minimum pricing are a good start but changing attitudes to drink starts with education. Ministers need to look again at how we teach people about the health risks of alcohol.”

Death rates in the most deprived parts of Scotland were two-thirds higher than in the most affluent communities. Although the overall cancer mortality rate has fallen over the last 10 years, the number of deaths has risen – a pattern explained by an increase in the number of elderly Scots and the fact cancer is a “relatively common” disease in this age group.

Lung cancer remains the biggest cancer killer with 4,117 deaths - 2,119 males and 1,998 females - in 2014. Mortality rates among men for this type of cancer have fallen by 21 per cent over the decade but for women there has been a two per cent increase.

The death rate for prostate cancer has decreased by 10.3 per cent over the last ten years. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women, with the number diagnosed having increased, partly because of better detection through screening.

However, the mortality rate has decreased by 20 per cent over the decade thanks to advances in treatment and detection.