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.