Although over 60,000 adults in the UK have cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, nearly 75% don’t know it, according to research published in the Lancet. For many, the first indication is following admission to Accident and Emergency when the disease is very advanced and the chance of survival is very low.
This week, 18th to 24th June, is National Love Your Liver Awareness Week, and the British Liver Trust has launched a new version of an online screening tool so that people can find out if they are at risk.
Deaths from liver disease have increased by 400% since the 1970s yet most cases are entirely preventable with the major risk factors, alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis, accounting for up to 90% of cases.
Professor Nick Sheron, a liver expert from the University of Southampton involved in the research, said: ‘Liver disease develops silently with no signs or symptoms and is the second leading cause of years or working life lost. If current trends continue it will become the leading cause of premature mortality in the UK. Yet, most people with fatal advanced liver disease only become aware that they have a liver problem when they are admitted as an emergency. We must diagnose these people much earlier.’
The Love Your Liver awareness campaign, promoted by the British Liver Trust, aims to reach the 1 in 5 people in the UK who may have the early stages of liver disease, but are unaware of it.
Judi Rhys, Chief Executive, British Liver Trust said: ‘Helping people understand how to reduce their risk of liver damage is vital to address the increase in deaths from liver disease. Although the liver is remarkably resilient, if left too late damage is often irreversible. I would urge everyone to take our online screener on our website to see if they are at risk.
The British Liver Trust’s ‘Love Your Liver’ campaign focuses on three simple steps:
- Drink within recommended limits and have three consecutive alcohol-free days every week.
- Cut down on sugar, carbohydrates and fat and take more exercise.
- Know the risk factors for viral hepatitis and get tested or vaccinated if at risk.
Finding out your risk of liver disease only takes a few minutes. It could be the most important thing you do today. Take the British Liver Trust’s screener here.