Big Rise In Cases Of Liver Disease In England

The number of people suffering from liver disease is increasing in England - while falling in other European countries, health experts have said.

The UK's chief medical officer (CMO), Professor Dame Sally Davies, said obesity, undiagnosed hepatitis infections and excessive drinking are among the reasons.

She said the public needs to have a better awareness of the problem as the three major causes of liver disease are all preventable.

Between 2000 and 2009, deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the under 65s increased by about 20%.

By contrast, in most EU countries they fell by the same amount, according a new report by Dame Sally.

She wants local health authorities to make preventing, identifying and treating liver disease a priority.

"I have done a comprehensive analysis of the state of the country's health," she said.

"(I) found some areas where we are doing really well and others where there is still a lot of improvement needed.

"I was struck by the data on liver disease particularly.

"This is the only major cause of preventable death that is on the increase in England that is generally falling in other comparable European nations. We must act to change this."

Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "We echo the CMO's concerns, which could not come at a better time as we await the Government's decision on the most appropriate level for a minimum price for alcohol.

"These figures underline the urgent need for a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol, which would hit younger drinkers and heavy drinkers, while not greatly affecting moderate drinkers."