NHS doctor
Liver disease deaths in the UK have increased by 400% since the 1970sReuters

Deaths from liver disease in the UK have increased 400% in the last 40 years, according to the British Liver Trust.

Now the health charity is calling on the government to support its universal screening Love Your Liver campaign, aimed at combatting the problem and saving the NHS up to £600m.

Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: "The average age of death from liver disease is 57: that's over 20 years lower than deaths from cancer, stroke and heart disease. Liver disease is now the third most common cause of premature death."

Latest figures reveal more than 16,000 people were killed from liver disease, through factors such as obesity, drinking alcohol and hepatitis.

"Most people think that a glass of wine or pint of beer a night or a couple of takeaways a week won't do much harm, when in fact drinking even just a bit too much alcohol every day and eating unhealthy food are major contributing factors for liver damage," Langford added.

"We are all affected differently and the symptoms are almost undetectable in many cases until it is too late. This is a serious health situation. More than one million lives could be saved if we invest in early diagnosis."

Shadow minister for public health, Luciana Berger MP, said: "This campaign puts pressure on the government to do everything it can to stop the tragedy of deaths from liver disease; many of which could have been prevented if they were detected earlier."

The British Liver Trust has set up an online screening tool.

Tips to look after your liver

    • Drink within safe limits (2 to 3 units per day for women and 3 to 4 units per day for men).
    • Take 3 days off alcohol every week to give your liver a chance to repair itself.
    • Avoid alcohol if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
    • Eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking plenty of water.
    • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, reducing portion sizes and cutting down on your fat and sugar intake.
    • Take some regular exercise – aim for a total of 30 minutes a day if possible.
    • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B when travellling abroad. (There are no vaccines for hepatitis C or E.)
    • Practice safe sex.
    • Always using clean needles, syringes and other equipment if using drugs. http://loveyourliver.org.uk