Alcohol-related deaths see big rise for men aged 60-74 in the North East

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Death rates among 60 to 74-year-old men owing wholly to alcohol abuse have "increased significantly" since 2001 - with the North East faring the worst.

The rise is particularly steep among men aged between 70 and 74, where it has surged by around a half from 18.7 per 100,000 population in 2001 to 28.0 per 100,000 in 2016.

The North East recorded the highest rates of any region: 21.9 for men, and 10.4 for women (with the North West recording the same rate for females).

In total, 7,327 people died in the UK last year as a direct result of abusing alcohol.

This equates to a rate of 11.7 deaths per 100,000 population, "significantly higher" than the figure for 2001 (10.6 per 100,000), according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures also show that rates among 60 to 64-year-old females have jumped by over a third (35%) in the same period.

The increase in rates among older age groups may be attributable to the misuse of alcohol that began years or decades previously, the ONS said.

Overall, the death rate among males in 2016 was more than double that for females: 16.2 deaths per 100,000 population for men, compared with 7.5 for women.

Scotland recorded the highest rate among men for any nation in the UK: 30.9 deaths per 100,000.

This was significantly higher than the equivalent figures for England (14.5), Wales (17.4) and Northern Ireland (22.2).

Scotland has seen the steepest drop in rates since the early 2000s, however.

Among women, the rate was again highest in Scotland (12.1 deaths), but Northern Ireland was close behind (11.8 deaths).

Northern Ireland also showed a steep rise in rates for female deaths, from 6.4 in 2013 to 11.8 in 2016.

In England, the equivalent figure for women was 6.8 and in Wales it was 8.3.

People in deprived areas may suffer the effects of alcohol more than those in affluent ones even if consumption levels are similar, the ONS said, pointing to the existence of other health problems, drinking habits and access to healthcare.

Dr Tony Rao, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: "The latest statistics are a wake-up call to the rising problem of alcohol misuse in a generation of baby boomers that need urgent consideration by our public health and clinical services in the UK.

"It should also serve to highlight the current deficiency in specialist alcohol services for people with more severe alcohol problems."