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The Lancet Commission into Liver Disease in the UK

Updated on: 23 May 2020   First published on 29 Dec 2017

This report contains new and follow-up metric data relating to the eight main recommendations of the Lancet Standing Commission on Liver Disease in the UK, which aim to reduce the unacceptable harmful consequences of excess alcohol consumption, obesity, and viral hepatitis. For alcohol, we provide data on alcohol dependence, damage to families, and the documented increase in alcohol consumption since removal of the above-inflation alcohol duty escalator. Alcoholic liver disease will shortly overtake ischaemic heart disease with regard to years of working life lost. The rising prevalence of overweight and obesity, affecting more than 60% of adults in the UK, is leading to an increasing liver disease burden. Favourable responses by industry to the UK Government’s soft drinks industry levy have been seen, but the government cannot continue to ignore the number of adults being affected by diabetes, hypertension, and liver disease.

New direct-acting antiviral drugs for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection have reduced mortality and the number of patients requiring liver transplantation, but more screening campaigns are needed for identification of infected people in high-risk migrant communities, prisons, and addiction centres. Provision of care continues to be worst in regions with the greatest socioeconomic deprivation, and deficiencies exist in training programmes in hepatology for specialist registrars. Firm guidance is needed for primary care on the use of liver blood tests in detection of early disease and the need for specialist referral. This report also brings together all the evidence on costs to the National Health Service and wider society, in addition to the loss of tax revenue, with alcohol misuse in England and Wales costing £21 billion a year (possibly up to £52 billion) and obesity costing £27 billion a year (treasury estimates are as high as £46 billion). Voluntary restraints by the food and drinks industry have had little effect on disease burden, and concerted regulatory and fiscal action by the UK Government is essential if the scale of the medical problem, with an estimated 63 000 preventable deaths over the next 5 years, is to be addressed.

 

View the report on The Lancet website