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Prohibition and Cirrhosis of the Liver



    AT an address given at the recent annual meeting of the Royal Institute of Public Health at Margate, Dr. C. C. Weeks stated that, in the United States, when prohibition really was prohibiting, there was a marked decrease in the death-rate from cirrhosis of the liver and a rise as ‘boot-legging’ became more extensive. The liquor sold under ‘boot-legging’ conditions was much more alcoholic than usual, ethyl alcohol being so high as 70 per cent in much of the whisky sold. There was consequently a good deal of acute alcoholism attributed to all sorts of causes, whereas the one effective cause was that the whisky was 50 per cent stronger than xisual. Since the repeal of prohibition, there has been a slight but steady increase in deaths due to alcoholism. Official figures for 1935 showed that, out of 24 States, 20 had an increase in the death-rate from cirrhosis, while only 11 showed an increase in the death-rate for alcoholism as compared witib 1932. The steady drinking of a more normal alcoholic beverage was leading inevitably to more cirrhosis of the liver but to less acute alcoholism.

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