Alcohol again shown to be a major cause of early death

Alcohol again shown to be a major cause of early death

A huge Oxford University review has confirmed the devastating health effect that alcohol has on the population.  The study showed how alcohol increases death in over 11 different diseases.  There were 170,558 deaths in England during 2006 alone that can be tracked back, in part, to alcohol.  This damage would be similar in NZ, Australia and the United States. 

A few months ago Professor Ian Gilmore and Nick Sheron found drinking would cause 210,000 deaths in the next 20 years in the UK, through illness, violence and accidents.  The new study says the only safe level of drinking alcohol is around half a unit a day or 2-3 glasses per week.  This is what I have been suggesting for years.  Changing the culture to this lower level of drinking would mean saving 4,600 lives each year in England.  It would means hundreds of thousands of lives each year around the world.  The ‘alcohol is good for you’ studies are flawed, marketed to you to sell more booze and totally factually incorrect (see my previous blogs for more on this). 

The English Alcohol Reality Check:

  • The safe alcohol limit is half a unit per day or 3.5 units per week
  • UK men drink an average of 16.4 units per week
  • A quarter of UK men drink more than 21 units in an average week
  • UK women drink an average of 8 units a week
  • One-in-five UK women drink more than 14 units in an average week
  • School pupils who drank in the last week consumed an average of 11.6 units
  • There has been an increase of 12% in alcohol-related admissions to hospital
  • Of the alcohol-related deaths, the majority (4,154) died from alcoholic liver disease

The average man is drinking over 4 TIMES MORE than the safe upper limit. 

The average woman is drinking TWICE the safe upper limit. 

School pupils who drink are having THREE TIMES the safe upper limit – children.

This is so disturbing it is hard to get your head around, however it is just the tip of the iceberg.  Breast cancer is skyrocketing across the western World.  Alcohol directly grows breast cancer in the human body.  ‘Western Fat Cancers’ are growing worldwide, and all are impacted negatively by alcohol.  Obesity, heart disease and diabetes are all, in part, caused by alcohol.  This research found that stroke, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, and five cancers would be dramatically reduced if people just drank less alcohol.    

The less you drink the better for your health
The study, as published in the British Medical Journal, found that “the beneficial effects of alcohol have been exaggerated and thousands of deaths from cancer and liver cirrhosis could be prevented”.  Lead author Dr Melanie Nichols, of the BHF Health Promotion Research Group in the Department of Public Health at Oxford University said “When all of the chronic disease risks are balanced against each other, the optimal consumption level is much lower than many people believe.  Regardless of your average intake, if you want to have the best possible health, it is also very important to avoid episodes of ‘binge drinking’ as there is very clear evidence that this will increase your risks of many diseases, as well as your risk of injuries.  People who do not currently drink should not be thinking of taking up drinking for health reasons, as there are many simpler and safer ways of decreasing your risk of heart disease.  People who justify their drinking with the idea that it is good for heart disease should also consider how alcohol is increasing their risk of other chronic diseases”  

Study by Melanie Nichols, of the BHF Health Promotion Research Group in the Department of Public Health at Oxford University, and colleagues, was published in the British Medical Journal, mid-2012.  As reported by, and Medical Xpress on May 31, 2012.

Posted: Sunday 3 June 2012