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Revolutionary medicine

13 Ebrill 2011


A University expert in the treatment of liver disease will invoke the revolutionary spirit of Che Guevara in a bid to help encourage us to take responsibility for our health and help stem the rising tide of preventable deaths from excessive eating and drinking.

Dr Andrew Godkin a Consultant Hepatologist, School of Medicine, will use a University public lecture this week (Thursday 14th April) to call for wider recognition of our individual ‘medical duty’ to prevent unnecessary illness and halt premature death.

"It was the revolutionary figure Che Guevara when organising the provision of healthcare in Cuba who said that medicine needs to convert itself into a science that serves to ‘prevent disease’ and orient the public towards carrying out its ‘medical duties’, according to Dr Godkin.

"The legacy in Cuba to this day is a remarkably healthy population with an excellent primary and secondary health care system. This is in stark contrast to state of health now in the UK and mirrored by much of the economically developed world, " he adds.

Dr Godkin will use his lecture to point out that Western society has at its disposal far greater material resources for health and education, yet despite knowing what is appropriate, we live to excess and fail to understand our "medical duties".

He will argue that as a society "we reap what we sow" and point to an epidemic of poor high calorie diet coupled with a sedentary life style leading not only to heart disease and diabetes, but to serious liver disease.

Dr Godkin will argue: "The vast majority of illness I see in my hepatology clinic will revolve around individuals who eat too much, drink too much, or at some stage have injected themselves with viruses that infect hepatocytes chronically.

"The end result of any of these insults may be cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and death.

"They are completely preventable diseases, therefore it is tragic they persist, and incredible the incidence is increasing, with enormous financial cost to society.

"In their own way, the liver diseases we now see result from behaviour that has now become perverse and the availability of the product has to some extent dictated disease prevalence.

"Satiety and appetite are controlled by a variety of physical, genetic and psychosocial factors - earlier physicians with an interest in liver disease would not recognise much of the case load we now treat."

Diet, Drugs and Drink: self inflicted disease in the 21st century liver takes place on Thursday 14th April at 7.30pm in the Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Main Building. Attendance is free. To book a place, please contact Lorelei Simon on 02920 870998 or e-mail:

The lecture is part of the University’s Science in Health public lecture series - a programme of free public lectures delivered by University academics for people interested in how science relates to medicine and health.

The lecture series began in 2002 and attracts a diverse audience of interested individuals including the public, secondary school pupils and professionals.

The series has the dual aims of opening up areas of concern in health care and to present new research on health issues to the public.