December 3rd, 2012
In November 2012, the annual report from Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has revealed that while deaths from liver disease are generally falling across Europe, they are increasing in England. The report looks at important areas of health, including heart disease, obesity and cancer, and makes a number of recommendations on access to care and how data can be better used.
“I was struck by the data on liver disease particularly,” she said. “This is the only major cause of preventative death that is on the increase in England [while] generally falling in other comparable European nations. We must act to change this.”
The three main causes of liver disease – obesity, alcohol abuse and undiagnosed hepatitis infection – can all be prevented with better lifestyle choices and improved public education.
The fact that so many are dying unnecessarily has provoked further concern from charities and research groups. Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said the situation with liver disease was ‘appalling’.
“It’s imperative that we come together now to act swiftly and decisively to tackle this problem,” he said.
Professor Mark Bellis of the Faculty of Public Health described the figures as ‘embarrassing’.
Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said that both the National Health Service and GPs needed to be more proactive in recognizing the lifestyles that are most damaging to the liver.
He added that the report could have gone further and called for universal vaccination against hepatitis B and better screening for hepatitis C, which would ‘considerably reduce’ the amount of liver disease in England.