14/11/2011 07:35 GMT | Updated 13/01/2012 10:12 GMT

As Liver Cancer Deaths Increase By 70%, Is Binge Drinking Creating A Health Time Bomb?

The UK has the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in Europe while liver cancer deaths have jumped more than 70%, according to two new sets of figures.

Alcohol and obesity are helping fuel both types of disease, with many of these cancer cases preventable if people were healthier.

A league table of European cancer rates of the oesophagus show about 6.4 out of every 100,000 people develop oesophageal cancer in the UK every year.

This is almost double the European average of 3.3 and higher than Ireland, which came in second place (5.9), and the Netherlands in third (5.8). France had a figure of just 3.9 while the rate in Spain was 2.8.

Cyprus's rate of 0.5 is the lowest in Europe while Mongolia has the highest rate in the world (18.7).

The oesophagus is part of the body's digestive system and is the tube which links the back of the mouth to the stomach. The UK's high rate is partly due to high levels of alcohol consumption and obesity - known risk factors for the disease.

The league table was compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) using World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates.

Around 8,000 oesophageal cancer cases are diagnosed in the UK each year and the disease kills more than 7,000. Just 8% of men and women are still alive five years after diagnosis.

In a second set of statistics, from the British Liver Trust, shows that since 1997 liver cancer deaths have risen by 74% in England and Wales. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland are also experiencing increasing numbers of deaths from liver cancer.

The figures show that 1,968 men and 1,371 women died from liver cancer in England and Wales in 2010, as did 230 men and 132 women in Scotland. In 1997 in England and Wales, the figure was 1,133 men and 848 women. Across the whole of the UK in 2010, an average of 10 people a day died from the disease.