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Putting a spotlight on liver disease – how you can keep your liver healthy

January is Love Your Liver Awareness month and an expert at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust has issued some timely advice about how to keep your liver healthy.

The key aim of the month is to put a spotlight on liver disease risk factors and the steps we can take to keep our livers healthy.

The liver is a vital organ with an amazing ability to regenerate. Performing over 500 jobs, including producing energy and fighting infection, it works hard and can tolerate a lot of abuse. But like an elastic band – it can only stretch so far before it breaks. Taking steps to look after your liver will give it the chance to replace damaged tissue with new cells.

Barbara Ross, Fibro scan technician at NCIC, said: “Recent statistics show that ongoing deaths from liver disease are increasing in England while in most EU countries liver disease deaths are falling. Cumbria, as part of the North West of England, is no exception being the second highest for liver disease per population in the UK.

“NCIC is seeing an increase in referrals relating to the liver due to alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis. These account for 90 per cent of the cases of liver disease in our county. NCIC has ongoing work to reduce liver disease in Cumbria, including working with British Liver Trust to bring the ‘Love Your Liver’ roadshow to Cumbria. This will support NCIC’s drive to improve liver health in Cumbria through liver health promoting, screening and scanning.

“There is so much more we could do to educate the general public of this slow, silent killer and by working with the British Liver Trust we are supporting this very disadvantaged, under educated and somewhat overlooked area of our health.”

One in three of us is at risk of liver disease. While there are over 100 types of liver disease, with some conditions caused by genetic and autoimmune factors, a staggering 90 per cent of cases are linked to alcohol consumption, excess body weight, diet and viral hepatitis.

Pamela Healy, Chief Executive at the British Liver Trust, said: “Liver disease has been a growing public health concern in the last twenty years during which time deaths have more than doubled with more than 10,000 people dying from the disease every year.

“Ninety per cent of liver disease is avoidable and sadly, the numbers of people being diagnosed have been increasing at an alarming rate.”

The British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver campaign has three simple but effective steps to improve your liver health:

• Drink less than 14 units of alcohol and have three consecutive days off alcohol every week.

• Cut down on sugar, carbohydrates and fat, and take more exercise.

• Know the risk factors for viral hepatitis and get tested or vaccinated if at risk.

There are now highly effective cures for hepatitis.


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