Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), warned that liver disease is a “silent killer” and now accounts for 500 per cent more deaths among working age people than in the 1970s.
He said: “It is currently the third biggest killer of working age adults after ischaemic heart disease and self-harm. And it is a silent killer, with 75 per cent of people with cirrhosis only being diagnosed once they are admitted to hospital.
“Liver disease is largely preventable with the three big risk factors being alcohol – for example, a large glass of wine is like three shots of vodka, so it is very easy for people to pour a glass and have no idea how much they are drinking – obesity and viral hepatitis.”
A 250ml glass of wine with an alcohol volume of 12.5 per cent contains three units, according to the NHS, while one small single shot of vodka with an volume of 40 per cent is the equivalent of one unit.
Last week experts published a blueprint for tackling the problem of liver disease in the UK.
The Lancet Commission on Liver Disease said it “stands out as the one glaring exception to the vast improvements made during the past 30 years in health and life expectancy for chronic disorders such as stroke, heart disease, and many cancers”.
The commission made a number of recommendations including “scaling up” national action to reduce the consumption of alcohol.