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Growing Number Of Young People Dying From Alcohol-Related Liver Disease, Study Says

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A growing number of young people are dying from alcohol-related liver disease. St. Patrick's Day celebrations started early at McGillin's Olde Ale House in Center City, complete with plenty of green beer.

People might want to take it easy on the holiday libations after a new study shows an increase of deaths from liver cirrhosis among people between the ages of 25 and 34.

"Overall, there is a burden of disease that is worsened when you increase the amount of alcohol," Dr. Jamile Wakim-Fleming said, "but the death occurs in the younger people because they push the limit and they drink more at one setting."

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Binge drinking increases the risk of cirrhosis because liver damage is cumulative, doctors say.

Too much alcohol at a young age can impact more than just a person's liver health.

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Doctors say alcohol abuse impacts relationships, a person's ability to function at work or school and puts others around them at risk if they get behind the wheels of a car.

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But how much is too much?

Recent studies say no level of alcohol is really safe, but it's generally recommended that people stick to no more than one or two drinks per day. Remember, alcohol affects everybody differently.

"Our genetics are different and we respond to drinking differently so we cannot really compare," Wakim-Fleming said. "I say, know your body, know yourself, listen to others. See how your behavior is."

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"If you have hangovers the next day or you have problems or you're becoming yellow," Wakim-Fleming added, "that is a sign you've exceeded. Your body's giving you a sign."

Researchers say reducing alcohol consumption or stopping while you're young may be able to reverse the damaging effects, but there is a point where the damage done to the liver and brain is irreversible.

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