The latest data reveals that deaths from liver disease in UK increased by an alarming 15% in 2020.1 Across the UK, 10,883 adults died of liver disease in 2020 - 30 people every day - compared to 9,470 deaths in 2019.
90% of these deaths could have been avoided as they are linked to alcohol, being overweight or viral hepatitis, which are all preventable causes.
The rise in deaths is particularly concerning as a new survey2 shows that less than half (47%) of the general public are aware that being overweight increases your risk of developing liver disease and a third are unaware that liver disease usually has no symptoms in the early stages.
The British Liver Trust is calling for every adult in the UK to make a pledge at the start of the year to improve their liver health by having a break from alcohol, taking on a fitness challenge, reducing sugar intake, ditching processed foods or eating 5-a-day.
Pamela Healy, Chief Executive, British Liver Trust, said, “One in three of us are at risk of liver disease and the numbers of people being diagnosed have been increasing at an alarming rate during the pandemic.
“Liver damage develops silently with no signs or symptoms and people often don’t realise they have a problem until it is too late. Although the liver is remarkably resilient, if left until symptoms appear, the damage is often irreversible.”
Pamela continues, “There are many benefits to making healthy lifestyle choices and making a pledge, might be the impetus to make long-term changes to improve your liver health.”
January is Love Your Liver Awareness month, which is devoted to liver health awareness and giving people the key steps needed to keep their liver healthy.
“January is often a time that people take stock after an indulgent festive period and this year is even more important as the numbers at risk have also increased during the Covid pandemic,” says Pamela. “Many people have increased their alcohol consumption and gained weight – the two biggest risk factors for developing liver disease.”
The British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver campaign focuses on three simple steps to improve your liver health:
- Drink less than 14 units of alcohol and have three consecutive days off alcohol every week
- Eat a healthy diet and be more active
- Know the risk factors for viral hepatitis and get tested or vaccinated if at risk. There are now highly effective cures for hepatitis
For a snapshot of your liver health, take the Love Your Liver screener www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/screener
Kirsty, a nursing student and mum-of-two, who found out she had liver damage after having a liver scan, decided to cut down her alcohol consumption and has reaped the benefits: “I went to a party recently and stayed up until 1am, drank no alcohol and was on the side of my son’s football pitch the next morning, clear headed and ready for the day ahead. It was actually great. I am saving money (good as a student) and saving my health at the same time.”
To make a pledge to improve your liver health visit www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/pledge and for more information about Love Your Liver Month, visit: https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/love-your-liver-month/
1. Figures for liver disease deaths in the UK
- UK figure calculated internally, based on data from national statistical releases on 2020 deaths. England & Wales: Deaths registered in England & Wales, Office for National Statistics, data includes ICD-10 K70-K77. Northern Ireland: Registrar General Annual Report 2020 Cause of Death, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, data includes ICD-10 K70, K73-K74. Scotland: Vital Events Reference Tables, National Records of Scotland, data includes ICD-10 K70, K73-K74. All data accessed 14th December 2021.
- Ominbus survey commissioned by the British Liver Trust.
- Savanta surveyed 2,095 UK adults aged 18+ online between 8th and 9th October 2021. Data were weighted by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade to be representative of all UK adults aged 18+.