The UK currently has one of the highest rates of deaths due to liver disease in Europe. Much of this can be attributed to alcohol abuse. There have been increasingly vocal calls from both doctors and charities for the UK government to revise it's approach towards alcohol.
Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust charity, has spoken out against the UK Government’s inefficient policies on alcohol and alcohol addiction treatment, calling them “a joke” as recently published figures showed a 70% increase in deaths due to in liver cancer in England and Wales since 1977. The rate of oesophageal cancer in the UK is also higher than that seen anywhere else in Europe.
Liver disease and treatment for alcohol addiction should be given greater importance than they are at present, and the British Liver Trust wants to see a change in government policies on alcohol as soon as possible. Liver disease is interlinked with a wide range of public health issues such as obesity, alcohol or viral hepatitis, which affect a large fraction of the UK population. “At the moment all we are seeing are weak policies or no action at all... We need to see direct action to prevent the daily death rate from liver cancer increasing,” Mr. Langford commented.
"We are still awaiting the national liver disease strategy, our government-led alcohol policies are a joke and despite nearly every other developed nation having universal vaccination for hepatitis B we are still debating whether we should," he added. The British Liver Trust believes that almost all liver disease is preventable, if the government implements effective alcohol policies to limit the consumption of alcohol and encourage referral to alcohol addiction rehabilitation programmes as soon as early signs of alcoholism are recognised.
The Department of Health agreed that there was more to be done to reduce the problems of obesity and alcohol consumption, and is producing a white paper on the topic. "There is increasing evidence that healthy lifestyles help cut the risk of cancers," said a spokesman. "We will shortly be setting out how we will tackle all the health and social impacts of alcohol.”