The alcohol related death rate in the UK continued to increase in 2006, rising from 12.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2005 to 13.4 in 2006. Rates almost doubled from 6.9 per 100,000 in 1991. The number of alcohol related deaths more than doubled from 4,144 in 1991 to 8,758 in 2006.
In 2006 the male death rate (18.3 deaths per 100,000 population) was more than twice the rate for females (8.8 deaths per 100,000) and males accounted for two thirds of the total number of deaths.
For men, the death rates in all age groups increased between 1991 and 2006. The biggest increase was for men aged 35-54. Rates in this age group more than doubled, from 13.4 to 31.1 deaths per 100,000 over the period. However the highest rates in each year were for men aged 55-74.
Death rates by age group for females were consistently lower than rates for males, however trends showed a broadly similar pattern by age. The death rate for women aged 35 -54 doubled between 1991 and 2006, from 7.2 to 14.8 per 100,000 population, a larger increase than the rate for women in any other age group. As for men, the highest rates in each year were for the 55-74 age group.
Between 2005 and 2006, for both sexes, rates remained the same for those aged 15-34 and increased for those aged 35-54 and 55-74. There were small falls in the rates for those aged over 75, down 8 per cent for men and 6 per cent for women.
Current medical evidence shows that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women not more than two to three. “Regularly” means drinking every day or most days of the week. Consistently drinking more than these amounts can risk damaging your health, with the danger increasing the longer you continue and the more you drink.
Did you know?
There are around 10 million people drinking above the Government’s recommended limits.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 premature deaths in England and Wales each year are associated with alcohol misuse.
Alcohol Abuse – The Facts!
An alcohol fact sheet published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) reports that in developed countries, alcohol is the third leading cause of disease and injury, alcohol causing nearly 10 percent of all ill health and premature deaths in Europe. This is ahead of obesity, diabetes and asthma and second only to smoking and blood pressure conditions.
In addition to the large-scale problems of intoxication, addiction and a multitude of alcohol related social problems, alcohol on a worldwide level causes an estimated 20 – 30 percent of cancer of the oesophagus, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, homicide / murder and motor vehicle accidents.
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In the 2002 World Health Report, the World Health Organisation estimated that globally 1.8 million people’s deaths every year are directly attributable to alcohol consumption. Moreover, it has been proven that a country’s drinking levels directly parallel the level of harm caused, ie the more a country drinks, the more alcohol-related harm occurs.
The UK is one of the top ten in the world for alcohol consumption per head of population and alcohol abuse is clearly escalating. The Office for National Statistics reported in November 2006 that the alcohol related death rate in the UK doubled from 4,144 deaths in 1991 to 8,386 deaths in 2005.
The death rate may be broken down by gender, with studies indicating that alcohol related death rates are much higher in males. The gap between female and male death rates is increasing and in 2005 the rate was more than twice that of females with males accounting for more than two thirds of the total alcohol related deaths.
Alcohol abuse as a cause of death in the UK has been estimated at 8000 – 40,000 according to the IAS. The lower figure constitutes deaths caused by alcohol defined causes such as chronic liver disease. The upper figure is an estimate of all other deaths in which alcohol has contributed but is not alcohol defined, such as falls, suicide and motor vehicle accidents.
Alcohol misuse within the UK is highest in Scotland. Whilst the population in England drink more frequently, the Scottish population are more likely to exceed recommended daily limits of alcohol with males consuming more than double female alcohol intake. A quarter of women and two in five men in Scotland exceed their daily limit. There were 41,651 alcohol related discharges from hospitals in Scotland alone in 2006/7 which is an increase from the previous year’s statistic of 39,061. According to the Chief Executive of the national charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, ‘the number of people in Scotland hospitalised through drink has soared by 270% in only 15 years.’
Alcohol Related Deaths on the Increase
A recent report from the Office for National Statistics has shown that alcohol related diseases in the UK are killing nearly twice as many women as at the start of the 1990s.
Approximately 30 years ago, alcohol related death rates for men and women in the UK were around two per 100,000, which was the lowest in western Europe. Now, the rate for men is 18 per 100,000, although this is still less than the European average.
For women, particularly In the 35 – 54 year old age group, around 14 women per 100,000 die from conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure – and this is well above the European average.
How long does alcohol stay in your system?
Alcohol is broken down by the liver at the rate of approximately one unit per hour (a pint of normal strength beer being two units). Consequently, it is possible to still be under the influence the following morning if you have drunk excessively the night before. In fact, every year in Britain over 25,000 people lose their driving licences the morning after a night\’s drinking.
To exercise caution, the following alcohol calculation can be used to estimate your level of risk after having drunk the night before.
1 Unit of alcohol = ½ Pint ordinary strength beer or…
1 standard glass of table wine or…
1 standard glass of sherry or…
1 single measure of spirits.
It is advised that you allow a minimum of 1 hour per 1 unit of alcohol consumed before driving or operating heavy machinery or electrical equipment in order to ensure that you are not under the influence of alcohol.
In the longer term, regular alcohol consumption increases your risks of: liver damage, cancer (of the liver, mouth, throat, and breast), mental health problems, weight gain, heart disease, stroke, shrunken genitals and reduced fertility. Alcohol reduces your body\’s ability to absorb nutrition, and the weight gain can also contribute to other conditions such as diabetes.
Other notable recent statistics include the number of younger teenagers using drink or drugs. Last year one in seven people admitted to Accident and Emergency departments across the UK for alcohol related health issues were under 14 years old – a total of over 2239 cases.
Drug and alcohol abuse in teens is becoming more of a problem each year as our culture changes. A key statistic is that the average starting age of Heroin use in many towns and cities in the UK is just 15 years of age – so we have an obvious duty to prevent young people from getting inadvertently caught up in addiction through misguided experimentation.