Heavy drinking a threat to public health in Europe Alcohol-related liver damage a widespread disease in Europe

Paris, 28 August 2007 - Many Europeans suffer from severe liver diseases caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. Particularly harmful drinking habits are spreading from the north to all parts of Europe.

One of the main topics of the 15th United European Gastroenterology Week (UEGW) taking place in the Palais des Congrès in Paris from 27 - 31 October 2007 is the repercussions this has on health. 9000 scientists from more than 75 countries are expected to attend the largest congress of its kind in Europe.

Heavy alcohol consumption considerably increases the risk of contracting liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. The results of a study conducted recently in 14 European countries demonstrate that the risk of such a disease increases in men who drink between 200 and 360 g pure ethanol a week over a longer period of time. The threshold for women is as low as 100 to 180 g a week. A litre of wine contains approximately 80 gramme ethanol, a litre of beer approximately 40 gramme.

Binge drinking increases risk

"Apart from the mere amount of alcohol, the way it is drunk also appears to play a role in the development and severity of liver damage", according to Prof. Massimo Pinzani, who represents the European Association for the Study of the Liver within the Scientific Committee of the UEGW. The gastroenterologist at the University of Florence sees signs that long-term consumption of spirits very often leads to critical liver cirrhosis. Drinking habits are also important. Binge drinking, i.e., which indicates the rapid consumption of large amounts of alcohol, can also lead to acute liver damage, even if weekly alcohol consumption does not exceed the risk threshold. Up until recently, such alcohol excesses were limited mainly to northern and central European countries. However, these drinking habits are spreading to young people from all parts of Europe. The UEGW experts stress that this is a worrying development.

However, heavy drinking does not cause liver disease in all individuals. In both liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, genetic disposition also decides whether the harmful effect of alcohol unfolds or not. Abstinence from alcohol is always essential for a good chance of recovery. Modern medicines such as acamprosate and naltrexone can effectively reduce alcohol craving. Cordicosteroids help combat inflammation in acute hepatitis. Vitamin preparations and a balanced diet are also important. However, an organ transplant is often the only option for patients with severe liver damage. The success rate of surgery is high but the danger of recurrence following a transplant has not yet been averted.

Numerous other congress highlights

The congress will cover a diverse range of gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Highlights include the latest research findings on obesity and false nutrition, new endoscopic techniques and the effects of coeliac disease, a type of food intolerance. Topics which affect millions of people include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The 15th UEGW gives journalists the opportunity of obtaining expert information first hand on numerous issues relating to current health policies. Questions will be answered at the press conferences and in the press centre. More information on the congress and the full programme of events are available at http://www.uegw.org

Press contact:
impressum Publikation und PR
Adenauerallee 10
20097 Hamburg, Germany
Tel.: +49 40 - 31 78 64 10
Fax: +49 40 - 31 78 64 64


Press conferences during the
15th United European Gastroenterology Week, Paris, France

Press conference I at 12:00 on Monday, 29 October 2007
Le Palais des Congrès de Paris, room 341

 - Binge drinking poses a serious threat
   to public health in Europe
 - Will the fear of endoscopy soon be history?
   New techniques give reason to hope
 - We are what we eat  new conclusions
   about nutrition and obesity

Press conference II at 12:00 on Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Le Palais des Congrès de Paris, room 341

 - Bowels have brains  sensitive neurons in the gut
 - Coeliac disease widespread, but hardly known
 - New operation technique:
   removing the appendix through the mouth

Following the press conferences, we have pleasure in inviting you to a small snack. There will be opportunities for individual interviews with the press conference speakers.

Registration and accreditation
Accreditation will be in the Press Centre (room 124M). Please bring with you your press ID or a written editorial mandate. Please register in advance, on the attached registration form.

Healthcare Republic does not have an editorial influence or input in to these press releases. The views expressed within these documents are not endorsed by Healthcare Republic or Haymarket Medical Publications Limited.

Enquiries should be directed to any contacts listed within the press releases.


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