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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
13-Mar-2013

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Contact: Margaret Walker
margaret.walker@easloffice.eu
European Association for the Study of the Liver

EASL calls on UK to tackle alcohol consumption problem through implementation of minimum pricing

Geneva, 13th March 2013 --- According to WHO, liver cirrhosis accounts for 1.8% (i.e. 170,000) of all deaths in Europe. In recent years liver cirrhosis has become a serious health threat in some Western European countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom, where over the last 10 years the associated mortality has increased .

The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) urges the UK government to press ahead with its proposed implementation of the minimum unit pricing of alcohol. EASL's most recent publication The burden of liver disease in Europe: a review of available epidemiological data highlights the fact that alcohol consumption is one the leading causes of cirrhosis in Europe. In the UK in particular, all studies agree on the worrying increase in the incidence of liver cirrhosis. Alcohol is the main cause of liver disease, including liver cirrhosis, and there is a clear correlation between an increase in alcohol-related cirrhosis and increases in alcohol consumption.

Prof. Mark Thursz, EASL Secretary-General, emphasised 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 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. We urgently call on the UK government to stand firm to pressure of the alcohol industry lobbying and to consider above all the health of British citizens" Prof. Thursz also noted that "a 45p per unit minimum price would only raise the cost to a 21 unit/week drinker by £2. This is most definitely not going to affect living standards".

Also urging the UK Government to take a proactive stand before it is too late, Prof. Markus Peck, EASL Vice-Secretary, noted "there are clear initiatives which need to be implemented to curb the growing problem of alcohol consumption. These include alcohol pricing, availability and marketing. Alcohol not only affects the liver but is a risk factor in over 60 diseases and conditions. It is in the interest of all European citizens for alcohol, a major risk factor for disease, to be better regulated, as is already the case with tobacco, and in this governments are the only ones with the power to take the necessary steps to do so".

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Contact details:

Margaret Walker, EASL Director of EU Public Affairs, margaret.walker@easloffice.eu
Mobile number: + 41 79 946 15 49

Notes to Editor:

The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL)

EASL is the leading liver association in Europe. EASL attracts the foremost hepatology experts as members and has an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education, and promoting changes in European liver policy.

EASL believes the EU has a key role to play in raising awareness of liver disease in Europe, increasing additional funding for research, setting standards and guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of liver disease across the EU and encouraging member states to make liver disease a public health and research priority.

For more information please visit http://www.easl.eu

About Liver Disease

Liver disease, estimated to affect 6% of the EU population (approx. 29 million people), is reported to be the EU's 5th biggest killer, accounting for at least one in six deaths. In 2004, the mortality rate for chronic liver diseases was estimated at 14.3 per 100,000 in the EU-25. This means that more than 70,000 Europeans are dying from chronic liver disease every year. Even more worrying is the fact that the EU statistics do not cover all diseases of the liver in one category, e.g. alcohol abuse related deaths and liver cancer are treated separately. Therefore, the actual rate of deaths from liver disease is certainly much higher than the statistics suggest.

About the report:

Report Title: The burden of liver disease in Europe: a review of available epidemiological data
Authors: Martin Blachier, Henri Leleu, Markus Peck-Radosavljevic, Dominique-Charles Valla and Françoise Roudot-Thoraval
Release date: 20th February 2013
ISBN No.: 978-2-8399-1176-4

A limited number of hard copies are available from EASL. The report can also be found online at http://www.easl.eu/_eu-policy/eu-literature-review



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