The Impact of Liver Disease

How Prevalent is Chronic Liver Disease?

According to the American Liver Foundation, in the United States, liver disease is estimated to affect 30 to 50 million people, or more than 1 in 10. Despite the potentially devastating effects of liver-related diseases, most people know little or nothing about them. Research shows that a majority of the population feels that liver disease is primarily caused by alcohol abuse. In actuality, there are more than 100 different liver diseases that can be traced to a variety of causes related to family history, reactions to drugs and chemicals, social behavior and hygiene.

It is estimated that:

  • More than 500,000 new patients are diagnosed each year, as a result of rising obesity rates and alcohol consumption
  • There are 500 million worldwide who suffer from Chronic Liver Disease. 
  • “There has been a 2.5-fold and 2-fold increases in the prevalence of NASH cirrhosis and NAFLD-associated advanced fibrosis, respectively, in 2009-2012 compared to 1999-2002. Extrapolation of NHANES data suggests that in 2010, 417,524 in the US had NASH cirrhosis, and 4,104,871 had NAFLD-associated advanced fibrosis. This represents a major disease burden and suggests the need for widespread programs to identify and treat those affected, and public health efforts aimed at controlling the burden of NAFLD and its complications. (

What is the Economic and Societal Impact?

“In the United States, over 64 million people are projected to have NAFLD (sic: Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), with annual direct medical costs of about $103 billion ($1,613 per patient)”.

In 2019, NIH-supported research on chronic liver disease in the US was $851 million; the cost for liver cancer alone was $127 million. The NIH projects that the 2021 research funding for liver disease will be $819 million and $124 million for liver cancer. In 2018, the NIH recorded 1.8% prevalence of those with liver disease in the US. (

chronic liver disease table

Table Data Sources

  • Spengler EK, Loomba R. Recommendations for Diagnosis, Referral for Liver Biopsy, and Treatment of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;90(9):1233-1246. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.06.013
  • Estes C, Razavi H, Loomba R, Younossi Z, Sanyal AJ. Modeling the epidemic of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease demonstrates an exponential increase in burden of disease. Hepatology. 2018;67(1):123-133. doi:10.1002/hep.29466
  • Schweitzer, Aparna et al. Estimations of worldwide prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection: a systematic review of data published between 1965 and 2013 The Lancet, Volume 386, Issue 10003, 1546 – 1555 DOI:
  • Kowdley KV, Wang CC, Welch S, Roberts H, Brosgart CL. Prevalence of chronic hepatitis B among foreign-born persons living in the United States by country of origin. Hepatology. 2012 Aug;56(2):422-33. doi: 10.1002/hep.24804. Epub 2012 Feb 16. PMID: 22105832.
  • Edlin BR, Eckhardt BJ, Shu MA, Holmberg SD, Swan T. Toward a more accurate estimate of the prevalence of hepatitis C in the United States. Hepatology. 2015;62(5):1353-1363. doi:10.1002/hep.27978
  • Wong T, Dang K, Ladhani S, Singal AK, Wong RJ. Prevalence of Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Among Adults in the United States, 2001-2016. JAMA. 2019;321(17):1723-1725. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.2276