Liver disease deaths in the under-65s have risen by a fifth in the past decade
High levels of drinking and obesity mean England is one of the few places in Europe seeing a major preventable disease getting worse, the chief medical officer says.
Prof Dame Sally Davies highlighted the rise in liver-disease deaths in the under-65s – up 20% in a decade – in her annual report.
In comparison, most of the rest of Europe has seen rates fall.
She said urgent action was needed to discourage harmful lifestyles.
She said three of the major causes of liver disease – obesity, alcohol abuse and undiagnosed hepatitis infection – were all preventable.
But despite that, premature deaths from liver disease in the under-65s had jumped by a fifth since 2000 to 10 per 100,000 people.
Her study – the first volume of a two-part annual report – focused on a whole host of diseases from cancer to dementia.
But Dame Sally said it was the liver disease figures that most shocked her the most – and showed there needed to be investment in prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment.
“I was struck by the data on liver disease particularly,” she said.
“This is the only major cause of preventative death that is on the increase in England that is generally falling in other comparable European nations.
“We must act to change this.”
The report comes after the government said earlier this year it would look to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. A consultation is expected to start soon.