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Enthusiastic supporters take part in Stroll for Liver, the annual fundraiser that takes place in locations across Canada.

Unhealthy lifestyle choices are a major factor in the increase in the number of Canadians – an estimated eight million – suffering from liver disease. In just 10 years, the incidence of liver diseases in Canada has increased from one in 10 to one in four, according to the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF).

“The reason we are seeing this increase in liver disease is partially due to lifestyle choices we don’t always associate with causing us a tremendous amount of harm,” says Gary Fagan, president of the CLF. “From supersizing your meal to binge-watching a television series, these ordinary activities can seriously compromise the well-being of your liver.”

The CLF points to an increased prevalence of liver diseases including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), chronic hepatitis B and C, and liver cancer as the reason for the escalation.

One in seven Canadians is obese, and 23 per cent of this group are at risk of developing serious liver damage from fatty liver disease, says the CLF. While there are more than 100 liver diseases, contrary to popular perception, only one liver disease – alcoholic liver disease – is directly caused by alcohol consumption. However, NAFLD is the most common liver disease in the country, affecting more than seven million people.

The CLF says the key to reducing the incidence of liver disease lies in research and sharing knowledge.

“The investment of research is a critical step in improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases,” says Mr. Fagan. “However, educating the general public without delay about the severity of liver disease and how one may avoid it can literally be the difference in a life or death situation.”

Established almost 50 years ago, the CLF has relied on donations that have provided over $30-million in liver research funding. This research ranges from improved screening to medical breakthroughs, and results in earlier diagnosis, treatments with fewer negative side-effects, and more cures for people suffering from liver diseases.

Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.