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Dying for drink-young women at risk

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Certain groups are more vulnerable Certain groups are more vulnerable to alcoholism

Researchers of a report published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in July looked at the patterns of alcohol-related mortality in three cities - Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester - all of which have similar patterns of deprivation, poor health and industrialisation. The researchers-Deborah Shipton, Bruce Whyte and David Walsh - found similar trends in all three cities-a very modest decrease in alcohol-related mortality, with the notable exception of the younger cohort - born between 1970 and 1979.

Women in particular showed disproportionate increases in alcohol-related mortality. Their early deaths were mostly due to liver disease - a silent killer because its symptoms can be easily ignored until it's too late. As for the causes of this alarming trend, the researchers point to the late-night drinking culture, following the easing of licensing laws, together with cheap drink as well as industry marketing and promotion. Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: 'Minimum pricing of alcohol would do much to impact on the levels of drinking that lead to alcoholic liver disease, but health service commissioners must prioritise the disease at the local level too, focusing on ways to catch problem drinking early and so help to reduce the huge social and economic cost of the current death rate.'

General practice teams play a major role in the detection and treatment of alcohol abuse. Practice nurses need to be aware of this vulnerable group and should ask young female patients about their alcohol habits, giving clear advice on sensible levels of alcohol consumption. If alcohol abuse is suspected, they need to know how to address this and arrange relevant tests to reveal the extent of damage. We all need to be aware of the damage drinking can cause.

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