ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS Local) – A disturbing new study declares that a growing number of young Americans are drinking themselves to death. The findings point to a skyrocketing increase in cirrhosis and liver cancer deaths over the last decade.

According to the report published in the journal BMJ, deaths due to cirrhosis increased by 65 percent from 2009 to 2016. Deaths from liver cancer doubled (from more than 5,100 to nearly 11,100) during the same time period. Americans between 25-34 were found to be the largest group affected.

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Cirrhosis is a disease commonly caused by excessive drinking or hepatitis C. Liver damage caused by cirrhosis can’t be undone and requires a transplant in advanced cases.

“These are deaths of despair,” said lead researcher Dr. Elliot Tapper, an assistant professor of gastroenterology at the University of Michigan.

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The researchers suspect the economic recession beginning in 2008 was responsible for many people turning to alcohol.

“Since increases in mortality were greatest for young men, these data may dovetail with trends in alcohol misuse, established to predominantly affect younger men,” the study explains. “Becoming unemployed is linked with alcohol misuse in young men but not older people or women.”

Dr. Tapper’s study adds that only one state, Maryland, had a decrease in cirrhosis deaths. Deaths from cirrhosis and liver cancer rose fastest in western and southern states. For example, deaths in Kentucky rose nearly seven percent, six percent in New Mexico and nearly six percent in Arkansas.

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[H/T CBS News]