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New Centre for Public Health report updates figures on the impact of alcohol on population health in England

Researchers at the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University have produced updated figures on the impact of alcohol on population health in England. These new figures will underpin future national estimates of the health impact of alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is linked to the development of many diseases and injury. Using the latest international studies on how alcohol increases the risks of ill health and death the report provides an update of the number of deaths and hospital admissions in 2010 that occurred as a result of alcohol consumption.

The report finds that, if only the harmful consequences are considered, over 21,000 deaths were caused by alcohol consumption, 5% of all deaths in England in 2010. This is in comparison to an estimated 6,885 deaths prevented by alcohol consumption. Alcohol-related deaths disproportionately affected younger age groups; with around 20% of all deaths in those aged under 45 years caused by alcohol.

Among under 75 year olds, years of life lost to alcohol were substantial, with over a quarter of a million potential years of life lost to alcohol-related causes. The top 3 biggest contributors were deaths from digestive diseases, injuries and cancers.

As well as contributing to deaths, alcohol places a considerable burden on health services. Using data from 2010/11, the analyses found that over 900,000 admissions to hospital were related to the harmful consequences of alcohol use, around 6% of all admission episodes in England in that year. In comparison, an estimated 101,444 hospital admissions were prevented.

Lisa Jones, Reader in Public Health from LJMU’s Centre for Public Health and lead author of the report commented: “We now know a lot more about the relationship between alcohol consumption and ill health. This data and improvements in the methodology have allowed us to identify the full impact of alcohol on population health in England”.

She continued: “These latest figures illustrate the continuing burden of alcohol to the NHS and highlight the devastating impact on our communities of the more than 21,000 deaths that occur each year from the harmful consequences of alcohol consumption.

This article first appeared on the Liverpool John Moores University Centre for Public Health website. Click on the link 'Updating England-Specific Alcohol-Attributable Fractions' to read the full report.