World Liver Day (WLD) is a global healthcare event commemorated every year on the 19th of April with the intent to raise awareness about liver disease in the general public. The activities conducted on this health awareness day are organised with the associations of various international and local governing groups. World Liver Day focuses on activities pertaining to educating people about the severity, early detection and prevention of liver diseases.
Being the second largest and most vital organ in the human body, the liver plays several functions that include but are not limited to metabolism, digestion, immunity, filtration of toxins, and storage of vitamins, minerals, glucose etc. Although the liver has the unique characteristic of self-healing, where it can regrow or regenerate after being damaged up to 60 to 70%, any abnormalities in the liver might lead to serious health complications.
World Liver Day 2023 Theme
This year, 2023, the World Liver Day theme is “Be Vigilant, Do Regular Liver Check-Up, Fatty Liver Can Affect Anyone.” The theme focuses to emphasise the practise of regular liver check-ups, as fatty liver can affect anyone, irrespective of the risk factors such as obesity (overweight), insulin resistance (diabetes), and excess consumption of alcohol. Recent studies in India have shown 75% of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD; liver disease caused in patients who drink little or no alcohol) is observed in patients with low body mass index (<25 kg/m2).
Importance of World Liver Day (WLD)
Globally about 20 lakh people die yearly due to liver diseases, of which cirrhosis-related causes account for merely half, and the rest are caused by viral hepatitis and hepatocellular (liver) cancer. Together, cirrhosis and liver cancer account for 3.5% of all fatalities (death) worldwide, where cirrhosis is currently the 11th largest cause and liver cancer is the 16th major (globally) and 10th (in India) cause of death.
The global alcoholic consumer population is approximately 200 crores, of which 7.5 to 10 crores are at risk of alcohol-related liver disease. In addition to this, 200 crore adults are obese/overweight, and 40 crores are diabetic, considered to be the risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma. While the global prevalence of viral hepatitis continues to be high, drug-induced liver injury is becoming the leading cause of acute hepatitis. In comparison to 2005, there will be an increase of 35% in new cases annually by 2030.
The spike in the numbers is due to a lack of awareness regarding disease seriousness, associated risk factors, and prevention. On this day, experts from hepatological fraternities, including healthcare policymakers and private hepatologists/hepato-onco surgeons, step forward to enlighten the public about the risk of liver disease and its prevention, including diet and lifestyle modification. In addition, the WLD also provides an opportunity for people to learn more about liver disease symptoms and the importance of early detection, as most liver diseases are asymptomatic.
Measures for Healthy Liver
The human liver is the body’s primary organ for detoxification. The following are a few measures that aid in maintaining a healthy liver.
- Consume healthy and balanced diet rich in protein and fibre
- Regular exercise and meditation to reduce stress
- Abstain alcohol and smoking
- Avoid self-medication
- Taking vaccinations on time
- Maintain healthy weight
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