The number of deaths linked to alcohol has risen by 400% since 1970, a report from Public Health England (PHE) has found.
In England, the average age at death of those dying from an alcohol-specific cause is 54.3 years, compared with the average age of death from all causes, 77.6 years. According to PHE, more working years of life are lost in England as a result of alcohol-related deaths than from cancer of the lung, bronchus, trachea, colon, rectum, brain, pancreas, skin, ovary, kidney, stomach, bladder and prostate, combined.
‘The harm alcohol causes is much wider than just on the individual drinker,’ said Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE. ‘Excessive alcohol consumption can harm children, wreck families, impact on workplace colleagues and can be a burden and drain on the NHS and economy. It hits poor communities the hardest.’
Since 1980, sales of alcohol in England and Wales have increased by 42%, from roughly 400 million litres in the early 1980s, with a peak at 567 million litres in 2008. Costs to the NHS are sharp. Estimates stand at £3 billion for conditions attributable to alcohol consumption in 2005/06, equivalent to 3.2% of the total health care costs. These costs included £374 million for cirrhosis of the liver and more than £330 million for traffic accidents caused by drink-driving. Since then, alcohol-related liver cirrhosis morbidity and mortality has increased.
‘As a nation we are drinking twice as much as we did 40 years ago and there are more than one million alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, half of which occur among the most deprived groups,’ added professor Fenton.