East Ham MP Stephen Timms urges everyone to look after their liver

PUBLISHED: 09:18 10 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:18 10 August 2016


The liver is a vital organ, removing toxins from the body.

Liver disease – which prevents the body from removing harmful chemicals – is now the third biggest cause of premature death in the UK.

Many people are affected by liver disease, and in England the number of hospital admissions has increased by half in the past 10 years. In 2014-2015, 497 people from East Ham were admitted to hospital for it, a higher rate than the national average. I want to see that number reduced.

Liver disease is a particularly big problem in areas like ours, where incomes tend to be below the national average.

There are three main causes: obesity, alcohol consumption and viral hepatitis. Obesity is the main risk factor for “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”. In East Ham, adult obesity is below the national average. However, 40.6 per cent of 10 and 11-year-olds are overweight – compared with the national average of 33.6pc. We need to be doing more to tackle this – encouraging children to be active, to take part in sport and exercise, and to have a healthy diet.

At a meeting I attended in Parliament last month, the chairman of the Lancet Commission on Liver Disease, Professor Roger Williams – a long time campaigner – called for action on several fronts: banning television advertisements for unhealthy food before 9pm, increasing the rate of duty on alcohol above inflation, and promoting vaccination against hepatitis B.

I will be writing to the local NHS, to find out what response they plan to the Lancet Commission recommendations. But it’s worth asking your GP to screen you for liver disease risk factors.

If you are at risk of liver disease, then reducing your consumption of alcohol and high-saturated fats food, and being vaccinated against hepatitis B, will reduce the risk significantly. More from Stephen

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