What We're Reading: Liver Disease Plagues Millennials; EPA Announces Water Regulations; Numbers of Unpaid Caregivers Rise

February 21, 2020

Millennials have increaseing incidence of liver disease related to alcohol consumption; the EPA will regulate 2 chemicals in drinking water; unpaid caregivers are on the rise in the United States.

Liver Disease From Alcohol Consumption on the Rise

Rates of acute liver disease related to alcohol consumption have been rising among millennials, according to an article from USA Today. A recent study found that from 1999 to 2017, the number of alcohol-related deaths more than doubled: from 35,914 to 72,558. A separate study reported that between 1999 and 2016, there was a dramatic increase in cirrhosis deaths in the United States, with the largest increase reported in people aged 25 to 34. “Alcohol consumption has risen in this country...There are more people drinking, and the people who drink are drinking more,” said Naga Chalasani, MD, head of hepatology at Indiana University Health.

EPA Announces Regulation of Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to regulate 2 nonstick and stain-resistant compounds in drinking water, The Washington Post reports. Specifically, the class of chemicals targeted is perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Concerns have been raised regarding the safety of chemicals found in everyday items like pizza boxes and carpet. Several states already have their own stringent PFAS limits for drinking water in the absence of federal guidance. Among the targeted sources of contamination are military installations that use PFAS-laden foam for firefighting and businesses that may work with PFAS. Labeled “forever chemicals,” the compounds persist in the environment and have been linked to health problems.

Report Finds High Prevalence of Unpaid Caregivers

A new report from the CDC found that more than 1 in 5 Americans are unpaid caregivers. The national survey included data from 44 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. Data showed more than 60% of unpaid caregivers are women. In addition, almost 45% of caregivers were ages 45 or younger. By region, the report found 14% of respondents in Puerto Rico reported being unpaid caregivers. Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana all reported a prevalence of over 25%. Researchers point out that for younger adults, caregiving may adversely affect their ability to work, thus impacting incomes. As the baby boomer generation ages, the prevalence of informal caregivers is expected to increase.