Shifting from concern to crisis: 1 in 4 Canadians may be affected by liver disease

Thursday, March 1, 2018 General News
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TORONTO, March 1, 2018 /CNW/ - An estimated eight million Canadians may be affected by liver disease, an illness that exhibits

little to no symptoms, involves everyone from newborns to seniors, and is rarely tested by doctors during annual checkups.

Recent indicators gathered by the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) show that an increased prevalence of liver diseases

including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), chronic hepatitis B & C, and liver cancer are why in just ten years, the statistic that was once 1 in 10, is now 1 in 4.

"The reason we are seeing this increase in liver disease is partially due to lifestyle choices we don't always associate with causing us a tremendous amount of harm," says Gary Fagan, President of the CLF. "From supersizing your meal, to binge-watching a television series, these ordinary activities can seriously compromise the well-being of your liver." 

Fast facts of liver disease:

  • There are over 100 known liver diseases; only one is directly caused by alcohol.
  • 1 in 7 Canadians are obese. 23% of obese Canadians are at risk of developing serious liver damage from fatty liver disease.
  • NAFLD is the most common liver disease in Canada, affecting over 7 million people.
  • The virus that causes hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV, and is the second leading cause of cancer worldwide.
  • Many Canadians with hepatitis C are not diagnosed until decades after being infected.

Liver diseases such as NAFLD or chronic hepatitis can lead to scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and ultimately, liver failure. The CLF believes the key to shrinking this 1 in 4 statistic is through knowledge.

"The investment of research is a critical step in improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of these diseases," says Fagan. "However, educating the general public without delay about the severity of liver disease and how one may avoid it can literally be the difference in a life or death situation."

March is "Liver Health Month", and the CLF is taking the opportunity to get Canadians familiarized with the facts, risks, and actions they will need to ward off liver disease. In the Check Your Engine campaign, the CLF is comparing the human body to a high-performance vehicle, and the liver as that vehicle's engine. The goal is that this example will resonate with the public and motivate them to avoid the risks associated with liver disease.

The public can view and share our video (English & French) and visit www.liver.ca/CheckYourEngine to receive practical tips, read stories behind those who are affected, and join in the CLF's awareness efforts by posting photos on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #CheckYourEngine.

About the Canadian Liver FoundationFounded in 1969 by a group of doctors and business leaders concerned about the increasing incidence of liver disease, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) was the first organization in the world devoted to providing support for research and education into the causes, diagnoses, prevention, and treatment of all liver disease. Today, we are bringing liver research to life by promoting liver health, improving public awareness and understanding of liver disease, raising funds for research, and providing support to individuals affected by liver disease.

SOURCE Canadian Liver Foundation



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