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Liver Diseases: A Huge European Health Burden, But Some Trends are Positive
Date:4/23/2008

29 Million EU Citizens (6%) Have Liver Diseases, 5th Most Common Cause of

Death Yearly, Liver Cancer Alone Takes 40,000 Lives; Alcohol Abuse Takes 13,000 Number With Fatty Liver Disease Stable or Growing; Viral Hepatitis Declines

MILAN, April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 6,000 physicians and scientists from around the world gathered today in this historic Italian city to attend the opening sessions of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), which runs until April 27th. Not surprisingly, several of the first presentations focused on trends in the prevalence of each of the major liver diseases, including continuing declines in new cases of hepatitis B and C, but stability or increases in fatty liver disease due either to excessive consumption of alcohol or non-alcoholic causes (NAFLD - non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

Hepatologists (liver disease specialists) study and treat a variety of acute and chronic conditions affecting this largest internal organ of the body. The acute category includes diseases that typically result from inflammation or infection due to injurious agents such as viruses, alcohol, and drugs. The most prominent conditions - each of which may arise in an acute form but then progress to a chronic state -- are alcoholic liver disease; hepatitis B, C, and D; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); and NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, the most severe subset of NAFLD).

The transition from an acute to a chronic state occurs when the patient fails to recover and the acute infection or disease produces ongoing damage to the liver. Cirrhosis - which refers to the death of liver cells, altered cell regeneration, deposition of fibrous scar tissue, and ultimately the impairment of liver function - represents the final stage of many chronic liver diseases. Cirrhosis can only partially be reversed, but treatments can stop or slow its progressi
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SOURCE EASL - European Association for the Study of the Liver
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