Approximately 29 million Europeans still suffer from a chronic liver condition despite major progress has been made in the past three decades in the knowledge and management of liver disease.
The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) today unveiled its new publication The burden of liver disease in Europe: a review of available epidemiological data.
Key findings in the report suggest that alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis B and C and metabolic syndromes related to overweight and obesity are the leading causes of cirrhosis and primary liver cancer in Europe. The report is the result of a review of 260 epidemiological studies published in the last five years in order to survey the current state of evidence on the burden of liver disease in Europe and its causes.
Speaking immediately before a launch event, hosted by Mr Stephen Hughes MEP, at the European Parliament, Prof. Mark Thursz, EASL Secretary-General, noted that "although the incidence and prevalence of liver disease in Europe is alarming, what is encouraging to see is that each of the major causes of liver disease is potentially amenable to prevention and treatment. This means we all have an opportunity to make a difference, through implementing the right policy changes.
The report shows us the importance of tackling the excessive consumption of alcohol which is the leading cause of cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. The Scottish Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol is an example of the urgent measures needed and we continue to draw attention to the importance of its implementation".
Stephen Hughes, MEP, host of the launch event at the European Parliament in Brussels, welcomed the publication of the report and took the opportunity to announce that he and a group of like-minded MEPs with an interest in Liver Disease had recently decided to create the "Friends of the Liver MEP Group". Mr Hughes, who is chair of the group, said "we hope that by creating this informal group this will enable us to raise awareness within the European Parliament of the seriousness of the liver disease epidemic and will encourage every single one of those 29 million Europeans who suffer from a chronic liver condition. They have not been forgotten. They will not be forgotten".
Prof. Markus Peck, EASL Vice-Secretary and Prof. Patrizia Burra, EASL EU Policy Councillor, both of whom were speakers at the launch event, welcomed the report's publication and Mr Hughes' announcement and said that "EASL looks forward to working with Members of the European Parliament as we take the report findings and use them to draw attention to the importance of tackling the major risk factors for liver disease and also to ensure that enough is done in order that cost-effective prevention programs can be implemented and novel treatments to tackle liver disease and avoidable deaths in Europe are developed".