SPIRE Southampton Hospital is urging residents to ditch the booze to beat liver disease.

Staff at the hospital have thrown their backing behind the Dry January campaign launched by the Alcohol Concern charity this month.

With death rates associated with liver disease up by more than two-thirds in the past 30 years and the average age of patients falling, experts at the hospital believe people need to take action before it is too late.

Dr Mark Wright, a specialist in liver problems, said: “There is a public stereotype of binge drinkers being at risk from alcohol, but they are not the only ones to consider. People who have been drinking regularly throughout their lives, whether to excess or not, are still be susceptible.

“Couples who share a bottle of wine a night, or friends who meet daily at their local pub for a few pints. These habits are just as dangerous over a prolonged period of time, and particularly when a person leads an unhealthy lifestyle, and carries excess weight.”