Top 5 Killers in the UK Today - Liver Disease and PMI
Photo: John Stringfellow: /CC

Top 5 Killers in the UK Today - Liver Disease and PMI

This is the last in our series on the Top 5 biggest killer diseases in the UK; today, we are covering the last of the 5: liver disease.


According to NHS Choices, there are more than 100 types of liver disease, which together affect at least 2 million people in the UK.


The liver is the second largest organ in the body. It works hard, performing hundreds of complex functions, including fighting infections and illness, and removing toxins from the body


Is there a New Cure On the Horizon?


It was reported in the Mail in September  2015 year that a research team at University College London have developed a pioneering treatment that could help hundreds of people a year with liver damage.


Working with the Royal Free Hospital in London, the UCL team have invented a charcoal-like substance that soaks up deadly toxins that are released in liver disease.


The Mail commented: “Human trials are due to start early next year and it is hoped that it could become a treatment within a couple of years. Patients would take a daily diet of the capsules.”


The UCL and Royal Free research team believes the treatment could reverse liver disease, save the lives of patients, and prevent some needing a transplant.

The cost of treatment for liver disease for The NHS is expected to soon top £1 billion.


Despite the good news, we should urge caution: this treatment still has not been approved by NICE for use in UK healthcare, so we will still have to see the results of the human trials. But fingers crossed this should be good news for liver disease sufferers.


Liver Disease and Health Insurance


The main causes of liver disease are currently excess alcohol and obesity; the health insurance industry currently classes those as self-inflicted lifestyles. Because of this, you will not typically have cover on PMI for liver disease.


Despite this, as with many health conditions, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the likelihood of getting liver disease and reducing its impact if you already have the illness.


NHS Choices recommends that the two main steps to take are to maintain a healthy weight for your height, and to avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. 


The flipside of the no-cover by PMI is that liver disease is preventable, and we should all be taking steps to move more and drink less, in order to reduce the effect of liver disease.