WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers from Australia presented their research on the underlying causes of liver cancer and cirrhosis deaths at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, concluding that these two diseases result in 1.75 million deaths each year. Viral hepatitis caused two thirds of those deaths. "If you consider deaths from hepatitis B and C together, said Benjamin Cowie, MBBS, PhD, FRACP, "the Global Burden of Death Study (GBD) 2010 estimates around 1.3 million people lost their lives to these infections, which is comparable to the respective burdens of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria."
This is the first study to categorize deaths attributable to viral hepatitis, alcohol, and other causes of cirrhosis and liver cancer separately. "This allows examination of the specific mortality associated with each condition, which clearly has great importance when considering interventions to address the population impact of liver disease in particular countries or regions, as well as globally," said Dr. Cowie.
According to the study, chronic liver disease is a leading cause of human mortality. Hepatitis B and C are responsible for 71 percent of liver cancer deaths and 58 percent of cirrhosis deaths, whereas alcohol is responsible for 25 percent of all deaths caused by liver cancer and cirrhosis. The toll taken by hepatitis B and C differs by region with hepatitis C causing a greater number of deaths in the US and Western Europe, and hepatitis B causing more deaths in China and India.
In addition to recommending a greater priority to be given to viral hepatitis globally, the regional differences in the predominant cause of chronic liver disease -- hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and alcohol abuse -- prompted the study authors to recommend prevention responses to be specific to regional needs.
"I think that there is clear evidence that in many countries, and at the global level, political and public health responses to chronic liver disease have not been commensurate with the burden of disease. This is especially the case for chronic viral hepatitis, said Dr. Cowie. "In Australia, for example, liver cancer is now the fastest increasing cause of cancer death - predominantly driven by chronic viral hepatitis - and less than 5% of people living with chronic viral hepatitis are currently receiving treatment."
"The GBD 2010 data suggest that addressing the global burden of liver disease, particularly chronic viral hepatitis, would be a fundamental step towards addressing a major cause of preventable deaths worldwide, concludes Dr. Cowie.
The 2010 GBD is the most recent version of the study and was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The GBD is a comprehensive regional and global assessment of mortality and disability from major diseases, injuries, and risk factors. The study is a collaborative effort between hundreds of experts worldwide. The study was published and can be found on the IHME website at www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/gbd.
The global burden of liver disease attributable to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and alcohol: increasing mortality, differing causes
AASLD is the leading medical organization for advancing the science and practice of hepatology. Founded by physicians in 1950, AASLD's vision is to prevent and cure liver diseases. This year's Liver Meeting®, held in Washington, November 2-5, will bring together more than 9,000 researchers from 55 countries.
A pressroom will be available from November 1 at the annual meeting. For copies of abstracts and press releases, or to arrange researcher interviews, contact Gregory Bologna at 703-299-9766.
Press releases and all abstracts are available online at www.aasld.org.
Media Contact: Gregory Bologna
Press Room: November 1 – 5, 2013
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
Telephone: (202) 249-4092
Researcher: Benjamin Cowie, MBBS, PhD, FRACP
Phone: (415) 539-5275
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SOURCE American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)