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Boozy Britain ‘kills one person every hour’ – health guidelines issued

Published time: August 11, 2014 13:07
Reuters/Eddie Keogh

Reuters/Eddie Keogh

Drinking alcohol on consecutive days will cause health conditions such as cancer, heart disease or cirrhosis of the liver, say Public Health England (PHE). Their latest guidelines recommend “one day on, one day off” drinking.

The soon to be released PHE report will say drinking alcohol regularly can lead to health problems in later life, even if an individual consumes just over the “low risk” guideline – the equivalent of two pints for men. Britons should abstain from alcohol if they have exceeded the recommended daily allowance the day before – 2-3 units for women, 3-4 for men.

“Daily drinking is a key contributor to increased risk, so it is possible that promoting a simple approach such as never drinking two days in a row would have a positive impact,” the report will state.

Currently, the recommendation from the Chief Medical Officer is that people should refrain from drinking on at least two days a week. The new guidelines, however, suggest that three to four days a week might be more sensible.

Running for cover from the liquor lobby

In a manifesto released on Monday, the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on Alcohol Misuse called on political parties to effectively minimize alcohol related harm in the UK.

The group, which promotes discussion of alcohol-related issues, called for the strengthening of alcohol advertising regulations and a phased ban on alcohol sponsorship, an increase in funding for treatment and access levels for problem drinkers, and the introduction of minimum unit pricing.

There are also calls to make training in parental substance abuse mandatory for all social workers and healthcare professionals, and for national public awareness and behavior change campaigns on alcohol to be independently funded.

One person dies every hour and 1.2 million people are admitted to hospital a year through alcohol problems. Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, said: “After smoking, alcohol is the second biggest preventable killer. Not only does it cost lives but burdens the NHS and the Criminal and Justice systems and others with ever increasing costs.

“All the political parties know that, but they run for cover when they are confronted by the drinks industry and its immensely powerful lobby. These proposals give them another chance to consider whether they really have the guts to take a different line for the country’s wellbeing in the future.”

The UK is the addiction capital of Europe, with some of the highest rates of opiate and alcohol dependency as well as a worldwide hub for so-called ‘legal highs’. The addiction crisis has caused the number of alcohol related hospital admissions to double in a decade.

A quarter of adults in the UK were found to drink to dangerous levels, with one in 20 found to be “dependent drinkers.” Liver disease is now one of the big killers in the UK alongside heart disease, strokes and cancer.

“Alcohol misuse costs Britain £21 billion a year,” said Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive of the charity Alcohol Concern. “We need urgent action to tackle this and the significant harmful effects alcohol misuse causes to individuals. I hope all parties will read the manifesto and show a commitment to the vital measures which it highlights.”

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