Alcohol and Liver Transplants

Alcohol Is Now The Main Reason People Need Liver Transplants, Study Says

Photo: Witthaya Prasongsin (Getty Images)

Alcohol (and our strange obsession with it) is unsurprisingly no stranger to serious health concerns. And yet, it’s mildly shocking that it’s now bypassed hepatitis C as the main cause for Americans who require liver transplants, according to a new study.

Doctors say that while “hep-C” has become easier to treat, people who deal daily with alcoholism have also become more vocal in their struggle with sobriety. The real struggle is that most of the 17,000 waitlisted for liver replacements are alcoholics who may not serve as “good candidates” for a transplant, as patients are required to undergo six months sober before surgery.

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New Livers For All!

One of the main reasons for the upswing is that doctors are now discounting the six-month rule and are instead allowing people with a history of substance abuse onto liver-transplant lists.

In previous years, it was common for hospitals to make patients prove they could stay sober for six months before putting them on a liver transplant list. This was thought to prove that they wouldn’t immediately wear out their new liver with heavy drinking. However, new research hasn’t backed up that concept.

Even so, neither of these reasons discount the fact that Americans have some serious issues around alcohol.

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Our Love Affair With Alcohol

The study also highlights just how much we Americans love our alcohol.

According to science, we are literally drinking so much our livers are giving out. As it stands, around 36 percent of all liver transplants now go to those with alcohol-related liver disease as binge drinking continues to be a major issue, not just in colleges across the country but even as we get older. A combination of political hopelessness and too much free time are strong mixers when it comes to American addictive behaviors.

The phrase “it’s happy hour somewhere” may as well be America’s slogan. At those prices, we just can’t help ourselves.


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