Brussels and Geneva, 20th February 2013 --- Major progress has been made in the past 30 years in the knowledge and management of liver disease, yet approximately 29 million Europeans still suffer from a chronic liver condition.
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 programmes can be implemented and novel treatments to tackle liver disease and avoidable deaths in Europe are developed".
Margaret Walker, EASL Director of EU Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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