The stark challenges posed by alcohol are outlined in a new publication, Alcohol and health in Wales 2014, published on 16 October 2014 by the Public Health Wales Observatory.

Every week in Wales alcohol causes 29 deaths – around 1 in 20 of all deaths. Most result from long-term drinking and its role in increasing the risk of some cancers, cardio-vascular disease and other illnesses.

The impact of alcohol on health also creates enormous pressure on Wales’s health system. Every week Welsh hospitals handle as many as 1,000 alcohol-related admissions.

Drinking in children and young people remains a particular concern, with 17% of males and 14% of females aged 11-16 drinking alcohol at least once a week – higher than in England and Scotland and twice that of the Republic of Ireland.

While the report shows that all parts of Wales are touched by alcohol, the most deprived communities suffer substantially higher levels of both alcohol-related diseases and deaths.

The report does show a decrease in heavy drinking among adults aged under 45, particularly in males and the youngest females, however heavy drinking has increased or stayed the same for adults aged 45+.

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy, Research and Development at Public Health Wales, said: “While we are making progress, this new report shows much more is still to be done if we are to reduce the avoidable harms that alcohol causes to communities across Wales.

“We need to help people make the right choices about their own drinking. Too many drinkers fail to recognise how even moderate drinking can increase their risks of developing diseases such as cancer. The normalisation of drinking at a young age is also especially harmful and our problems with alcohol must be tackled early in life.”

This article is taken from the press release ‘Stark challenges posed by alcohol‘ published on the Public Health Wales website.