Doctors Project 200,000 British Alcohol Deaths Over 20 years
February 21, 2012

Doctors Project 200,000 British Alcohol Deaths Over 20 Years

The UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released a report indicating that over 200,000 Britons will die from alcohol-related illnesses over the next 20 years. Around 70,000 of these deaths will be from avoidable alcohol-related liver disease. Other alcohol-related deaths considered include accidents, violence, suicide, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers of the breast and gastrointestinal tract the Royal College of Physicians reports.

The trend for alcohol deaths in Britain showed a downward trend falling from 6,470 in 2008 to 6,230 in 2009. But in 2010 the trend ticked upward to 6,317. The researchers indicate that the recession, not current government alcohol policy, may be the cause of the slight improvement. The uptick from 2009-10 means there is no room for complacency, according to the report.

The researchers place the government as the cure for slowing the alcohol deaths.  They are calling for the power of the government and its ability to set prices. In Scotland, the government is instituting a minimum price per unit of alcohol. The resulting windfall profits are then to be collected through separate taxation. This method does not change the alcohol prices dramatically and it targets heavy drinkers and under-age drinkers.

Currently the UK government monitors alcohol use in partnership with alcohol retailers and producers in what is called the “responsibility deal”. The researchers charge there is a conflict of interest with the shareholders of the companies due to their interest in profit and maximum consumption of alcohol.

The report indicates that younger people are more often than not the victims of alcohol-related deaths. The peak age for death is between 45 to 65 years of age and alcohol is a factor in 26.6 percent of deaths in men aged 16 to 24 years.

The current UK government is considering following the Scottish plan and setting a minimum price per unit, reducing availability and preventing marketing to children, thus hopefully reducing the increasing number of alcohol-related deaths.

The report titled “Projections of Alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales – tragic toll or potential prize?” was published in The Lancet medical journal.


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