Alcohol Deaths in Young Women Show Worrying Rise

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Posted 18/07/2013

Deaths from alcohol related disease in young women are rising, contrary to the overall trend, a study suggests. Experts have looked at deaths in men and women of all ages in Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester from 1980 to 2011. They say that results for women born in the 1970s should be “a warning signal” about their drinking habits. Almost 9,000 people die from conditions related to alcohol each year in the UK. The study looked at patterns of alcohol related mortality in three cities which all have similar patterns of deprivation, poor health and industrialisation. It compared trends in alcohol related deaths of people born between 1910 and 1979. Men were much more likely to die from alcohol related disease than women and the age range most affected was people in their 40s and 50s.But while the rates have plateaued or are even slightly smaller for the majority, it is not true for the youngest group of women – those born in the 1970s – for whom the death rate actually increased in all three cities. Sally Marlow from the Institute of Psychiatry told the BBC Today Programme that the report was the first indicator that there may be a ticking time bomb of alcohol problems in women. She said that women born in the 1970s would have started drinking during the rise of the “ladette culture” in the 1990s. She added that women suffer greater levels of harm than men at lower levels of drinking meaning they were more vulnerable to developing alcohol related problems such as liver disease.  The team behind the report suggests that cheaper alcohol which is more widely available, combined with better marketing and longer drinking hours will have all played their part in fuelling the problem. The BBC were told that it was a shame that minimum pricing had been rejected in England and Wales.  It was one measure which would have helped to tackle the problem, although it would not address the deep routed cultural influences at play.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the Chief Medical Officer was currently looking at alcohol unit information to see if it could be made more helpful to consumers. He said that the Department of Health knows that more action is needed to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol. This is why various measures are being taken including tackling the worse cases of super cheap and harmful alcohol, and there is clamp down on irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs.Julie Crossley, a medical Injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal comments: “It is clear that more needs to be done to help prevent alcohol-related disease. At a time when NHS resources are under ever-increasing pressure, we need to do everything we can to ensure that obviously lifestyle-related illnesses which are clearly preventable should be reduced, leaving more resource to devote to improving survival rates on illnesses such as cancer.”


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