Deaths from liver disease in the UK have risen by 25 percent in less than a decade because of binge-drinking and obesity, a report has warned.
The report by the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network found the number of liver disease deaths rose from 9,231 in 2001 to 11,575 in 2009. Sixty percent of these were men and 90 percent of them were under the age of 70.
Deaths from alcoholic liver disease have increased from 3,236 in 2001 to 4,154 in 2009, the report said.
The study also warns that people are dying younger from liver disease. The average age of death from liver disease is now 60 in women and 58 in men. In the mid-1980s it was 64 and 62 respectively.
The latest report follows figures published last December which showed a 60 percent rise in alcoholic liver disease in young people over a seven-year period, from 2003-2010.
While the report acknowledges that cancer, as well as vascular and respiratory conditions, are still the 'biggest killers' in the UK, liver disease is the only major cause of death that is rising.
Professor Martin Lombard, national clinical director for liver disease at the Department of Health, said: "This report makes for stark reading about the needs of people dying with liver disease.
"The key drivers for increasing numbers of deaths from liver disease are all preventable, such as alcohol, obesity, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. We must focus our efforts and tackle this problem sooner rather than later."
Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: "The increasing numbers of people with, and dying from, liver disease leaves the UK at breaking point and we cannot afford to overlook these patients any longer.
"Liver disease has remained the poor relation in comparison to other big killers, such as cancer and heart disease, yet liver disease is the only big killer on the rise."
"We need to identify patients early and invest in prevention strategies that will have a serious impact, such as alcohol pricing, taxing high fat foods and testing for viral hepatitis."