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British adults risk their health for alcohol

22nd May 2009

NHS figures have shown that a quarter of adults in Britain are drinking so much alcohol that it is damaging their health.


The amount of people who were admitted to hospital because of alcohol has increased by 69% over a five-year period to 863,000 in 2007-08. Part of the increase is due to a change in the way the information is collected, as it now encompasses admissions such as alcohol-related injuries.

The data in the NHS Information Centre report Statistics on Alcohol: England 2009 shows that one in three male drinkers and one in six female drinkers are in danger of "physical and psychological harm" because of their alcohol consumption.

Over one in 20 male drinkers and one in 50 female drinkers were drinking at dangerous levels and were at risk of liver problems and depression.

Since 2003, the NHS spend on drugs to treat alcohol dependency has increased by 39% to £2.4 million.

Deaths directly caused by alcohol rose by 19% since 2001 to 6,541. Most of the deaths - 4,249 - were due to liver disease.

The report showed that people were asked to answer a questionnaire to determine which of them drank at "hazardous levels".

The NHS considers safe drinking levels to be 3-4 units per day for male drinkers and 2-3 units for female drinkers.

The report revealed that 41% of male drinkers consumed more than four units a day on "at least one day" in the week before the survey and one third of female drinkers consumed over three units on one day.

The data showed that in 2007 17% of children aged 11-15 believed it was "acceptable to get drunk" at least once a week.

Tim Straughan, the chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, said: "The report shows a significant amount of people are at risk of actual harm to themselves, which in turn results in more work for the NHS."

Dawn Primarolo, the health minister, said 15,000 deaths every year were caused by alcohol.

She added: “We are working harder than ever to reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions, and to help those who regularly drink too much or are dependent on alcohol. We are making sure the local NHS has the right services in place."

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Article Information

Title: British adults risk their health for alcohol
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 11464
Date Added: 22nd May 2009


The Times

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