‘We must do more’ – Sunderland among most at risk from alcohol problems

Picture by Johnny Green/PA Wire
Picture by Johnny Green/PA Wire
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NEW figures due today will underline the health risks of alcohol in the North East.

According to Public Health England, the region has the second-highest rate of alcohol-specific hospital admissions, and the second-highest rate of hospital admissions from alcoholic liver disease.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol office, said: “Liver disease is the only one of five major disease categories that is still on the rise – and its victims are getting younger.

“Alcohol is a major contributor to this situation.

“The good news is that when it comes to alcohol – these cases are preventable. Today’s statistics are unfortunately not surprising.

“A third of our region live in some of the most deprived areas in England.

“These are vulnerable people who need greater protection from the devastation caused by alcohol which is too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted.

“We must do more. The fact that the average age of death from alcoholic liver disease is 59 should give the alcohol industry and Government sleepless nights. The introduction of a range of evidence-based measures to help reduce alcohol consumption, including a minimum unit price and restrictions on alcohol advertising and availability, is essential if we are to turn back the tide of alcohol misuse drowning our region.”

Prof Julia Verne, lead for liver disease at Public Health England, said: “Liver disease is a public health priority because young lives are being needlessly lost.

“All the preventable causes are on the rise, but alcohol accounts for 37 per cent of liver disease deaths.

“We must do more to raise awareness, nationally and locally, and this is why it is so important for the public and health professionals to understand their local picture.”

Liver disease is the only major cause of mortality and morbidity which is on the increase in England, while it is decreasing in Europe.

Only about five per cent of deaths are attributable to autoimmune and genetic disorders – more than 90 per cent are due to three main risk factors: alcohol, viral hepatitis and obesity.