Cutting down on alcohol, eating healthier food, having a few more nights in than nights out - just a few examples of New Years Resolutions that you might have made this year.

While these actions might help save you a few quid or shed a few inches off your waist, it can also help to keep your liver healthy.

One in 200 people a year in the UK die of liver disease, according to a Musgrove Park Hospital consultant, but people are unlikely to know they have it.

Somerset County Gazette:

DEDICATED MEDICAL TEAM: Dr Rudi Matull, gastroenterologist consultant, with hepatology nurses Anna Page and Meritxeu De la Asuncion. 

Musgrove’s hepatology lead nurse, Anna Page, said: “The liver is the biggest gland and does more than 500 jobs, it’s a really important organ, but it takes the most abuse.

“Anything we eat goes to the gut, then the bad stuff goes to the liver. Drugs metabolise there, too.

“You can’t live without it, but it can regenerate a lot. It’s a resilient organ, and quite forgiving.

“But liver disease is a silent killer, a slow burner. The insult to the liver takes place over time.”

Somerset County Gazette:

A healthy liver vs. a sick liver. 

The three causes of liver disease are alcohol, obesity and viruses such as Hepatitis B and C.

According to the team at the hospital, 60 per cent of Somerset’s population, aged 18 and above, are classified as overweight or obese.

Dr Rudi Matull, gastroenterologist consultant, said: “Stats show that alcohol is a big problem, but obesity will take over.

“In Somerset, 60 per cent of people are classed as overweight.

“People need to be moving - but not to the fridge, and eating more broccoli instead of sugary juice.”

In 2014/15 there were 90 admissions to Musgrove for alcoholic liver disease.

Ms Page said: “We are getting complacent with alcohol. Our attitude towards binge drinking is becoming the norm.

“With our diet - we love our sugar and processed foods, and our portions are bigger.

“The UK has higher rates of liver disease than our neighbours in Europe.”

Both Hepatitis C and B are treatable. 160,000 people are known to be infected with chronic Hepatitis C in England, but the real number is likely to be much higher as many do not know they have the infection.

Ms Page added: “People assume it’s just injections, but it’s not.

“It’s a risk with sharing drug paraphernalia like straws and rolled up notes.

“Getting tattoos in unhygienic environments is also a risk, although it’s a lot better now.”

Somerset County Gazette:

Andy Campbell.

Father-of-two Andy Campbell, 51, from Somerset, lived for decades with Hepatitis C without knowing.

“I was completely naive,” He said.

“I had no obvious symptoms.

“I experimented with some drug use when I was 16-18-years-old. Spending a night in a police cell was my turning point - I knew I had to turn my life around.

“I took myself out of the situation, everyone got on with their lives.

“I maintained a reasonable healthy life.

“Then I was just chatting with an old friend and they encouraged me to get tested.

“I’ve been living with it for 34 years. I was so naive.

“It’s useful to be able to talk with my children when they’re thinking of experimenting.

“I’m six weeks into my treatment now and I’m feeling really positive. I encourage people I talk with to get tested as well.”

41-year-old Wayne Beattie was at death’s door when he arrived at Musgrove Park Hospital.

He was in the later stages of liver disease and needed to make serious changes.

Somerset County Gazette:

Wayne Beattie.

Mr Beattie had been a drug and alcohol user all his life, while stints in rehab proved to be useless.

“They weren’t sure I would last the night,” He said.

“I’m better than I was, I have no drink or drugs now, and I’ve moved away from Taunton.

“I had been to rehab but nothing changed. I have been putting things into practice since I was 19 but it didn’t stick.

“The effects of drugs and alcohol can last for ages.

“This time I’ve done this for myself - it’s on my terms.

“Having Hepatitis C and experiencing how invasive it was, there was no choice anymore.

“I was thinking that I wouldn’t put my worth enemy in my shoes, it was disgusting and horrible.”

Mr Beattie was one of the very first patients to receive the new treatments available at the hospital. The older treatments were more toxic and less successful, but the new anti-viral medicine is more successful and is taken in a tablet.

Dr Matull added: “It’s a myth that liver biopsies are needed. That’s a thing of the past but it has stopped people coming forward.

“One in 200 people have liver disease but wouldn’t know it.”

Waiting times are not an issue at the hospital as treatments are available a few months after diagnosis.

The team at Musgrove is encouraging people to visit the British Liver Trust’s website to take the liver screening test - but you have to be 100 per cent honest.

Dr Matull said: “You’ve got to ask yourself ‘could you?’, and if the answer is yes, get a liver test at the GP.”

Ms Page added: “Take the test - but you’ve got to be honest with yourself.

“Making small changes early to your diet and doing exercise will be good for your liver.”

To take the screening test visit