Alcohol-related deaths increased in 2010

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The Office of National Statistics today released their annual report on the state alcohol-related deaths in the UK. They found that:

  • The rates of alcoholic deaths in the UK increased from the previous year.  
  • Alcohol-related deaths accounted for almost 1.5% of all deaths in England and Wales in 2010. 
  • The alcohol-related death rate was higher in Wales than in England.
  • These death rates are also now highest for people of an older age (55-74) than any other age group. 
  • They also found that while the number of alcohol-related deaths among men has risen, the number among women has fallen.

North – South Divide

The researchers found the figures varied widely in different areas. If you are living in the North of England you are twice as likely to die of alcohol-related causes than if you lived in the East of England. This shows the disparity between the richer south of England and the poorer north. As the Newcastle Chronicle put it “A drinker dies every 18 hours in the North East”.

Social gap & low alcohol prices

The report pointed to a study conducted by Breakwell et al. in 2007, which found a strong relationship between death rates from alcohol and deprivation in England and Wales. A more recent study in 2011 by V. Siegler et al. demonstrated that alcohol-related deaths are more likely among disadvantaged socio-economic classes (which vary geographically). This study also points to other data which show a link between the fall in the price of alcohol and an increased gap between rich and poor which has a detrimental impact on the health of the disadvantaged and vulnerable (known as a social gradient) – yet another reason for the Government to increase the tax on alcohol and ban rock-bottom drinks deals.

These studies don’t tell us anything new, but they do cement what we already know – that Britain has a troubled relationship with alcohol. Something we blogged about when our blog began last summer.

But the figures should be higher…

Interestingly at the bottom of the document the ONS states that their definition of alcohol-related deaths do not include diseases which may have been caused by heavy drinking, including cancer of the liver, oesophagus and mouth, and does not include road traffic deaths caused by drink driving.  

While we understand the reasonings for this are to create accurate statistical results, it does raise the question – how many more people’s lives are shortened or ended as a result of their alcohol misuse?