A new survey released today by the British Liver Trust shows that only 12% of people in Britain have discussed or been tested for liver disease by their GP despite the condition being the third most common cause of premature death in the UK.
Research shows that three quarters of people are currently diagnosed with liver disease in a hospital setting when they already have serious problems, and by this time for many it is too late. Liver disease is the only major cause of death still increasing year-on-year. More than one in five of us are affected and the condition kills more people than breast cancer.
The British Liver Trust is launching its 2017 Love Your Liver Campaign today to raise awareness of the risk factors of liver disease and improve screening and early diagnosis. Liver disease is largely preventable. More than 90% is due to three main risk factors: alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis.
The campaign focuses on three simple steps to Love Your Liver:
- Drink within recommended limits and have three consecutive days off alcohol 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
A Love Your Liver mobile screening and scanning unit will be visiting 10 hot spots across England – the campaign will visit Scotland and Wales later in the year. The areas have been chosen because they have some of the worst rates for death and hospital admissions in the UK.
The British Liver Trust is urging everyone to take its online screening test at www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/screener
The online test features an easy to complete set of questions that will assess the risk to your liver health and provide results that explain your risks and what to discuss with your GP if necessary.
Over 2000 British adults took part in the survey which was conducted by ComRes on behalf of the British Liver Trust. The survey also found:
- The general public underestimate the seriousness of liver disease and the number of deaths that it causes. Breast cancer, diabetes and strokes were all incorrectly thought to cause more deaths than liver disease.5
- Whilst the majority of respondents (78%) spontaneously knew that drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing liver disease, only one in ten (9%) spontaneously mentioned obesity – a major cause of liver failure in the UK
- Even when prompted, just over half of the population were aware of the two other major causes of liver disease – viruses such as Hepatitis B or C (56%) and being overweight (58%)
- 40% of respondents, when presented with a list of options, incorrectly believe that smoking causes or increases the risk of liver disease and this increased to 47% amongst younger Britons (18-24 year olds).
Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust said, “The UK is in the grip of a health epidemic that threatens the lives of millions of people, most of whom may be completely unaware that they are even ill. Liver disease is a silent killer and many people don't realise that they have a problem until it is too late.
“The liver is just as vital an organ as the heart, but people often fail to appreciate the importance of keeping it healthy. A liver health check could save your life.”
The British Liver Trust is working on a three year project with the Royal College of General Practitioners to raise awareness and understanding amongst General Practitioners.
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