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Alcohol-related mortality rates

According to current Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, there were 9,214 alcohol-related deaths in the UK in 2016, 456 more than the previous year.


In 2016, people in their fifties and sixties suffered the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the UK. Figure 6 shows that for both sexes, the rate was highest among those aged between 55 and 70 years of age.



According to Office for National Statistics figures, the number of alcohol-related deaths has almost doubled since 1994, reaching a peak of 9,214 deaths in 2016 (figure 7); the rate of alcohol-related deaths is up 62%.



It is important to note that in the case of England, Local Alcohol Profiles England (LAPE) estimated that based on the calculations used by researchers at the Liverpool John Moores University Centre for Public Health, there were roughly 23,800 deaths related to alcohol consumption in 2016 (rate 46 deaths per 100,000 population), of which nearly 17,000 were alcohol-specific (rate: 10 / 100,000, see below).

Source: Public Health England (February 2018), ‘Local Alcohol Profiles England’, dataset


The term 'alcohol-related' is used in different contexts by the ONS and PHE. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the ONS data refers to alcohol-specific or wholly-attributable conditions (for example, alcoholic liver disease), as well as all cases of certain liver diseases even when alcohol is not specifically mentioned on the death certificate, whereas PHE refers to wholly-attributable and partially-attributable conditions (for example, hypertensive diseases, various cancers and falls).

Hence the discrepancy in figures between both organisations. In the ‘Alcohol-related deaths in the UK: registered in 2015’ release, the ONS announced plans to review the definition of alcohol-related deaths in order to:

… improve the consistency of outputs on deaths related to the abuse of alcohol produced by different government departments across the UK. We will be holding a consultation on this definition in the summer of 2017 with the view to using an improved definition in our next release.[1]

Subsequent releases have and will mark a shift to an alcohol-specific only definition of deaths primarily for the purposes of harmonisation across government agencies and providing 'an unambiguous measure of deaths where alcohol is the sole cause'.

The ONS acknowledged the central limitation of this new approach to be as follows:

The definition of alcohol-specific deaths does not include diseases that are partially attributable to alcohol, such as cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and liver. As such, the definition of alcohol-specific deaths underestimates the burden of alcohol consumption on mortality.[2]

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[1] Office for National Statistics (February 2017), Chapter 4: Upcoming changes to this bulletin, in ‘Alcohol-related deaths in the UK: registered in 2015’ <>

[2] Office for National Statistics (October 2017), The impact of using the new definition of alcohol-specific deaths' <>