Drinking kills 15,000 a year

Alcohol causes 15,000 deaths each year, almost double the number previously thought, according to new research.

In 2005, one in five deaths among young people aged 16 to 24 were attributable to alcohol, the new figures show. Among men in this age group, a quarter of deaths were alcohol-related.

The researchers said that alcohol consumption was responsible for a “significant proportion of avoidable deaths and hospital admissions” each year.

The Government-commissioned research was carried out at the North West Public Health Observatory (NWPHO).

It showed that previous official figures, which put the total at 8,386, had severely underestimated the full extent of the problem, because they only included deaths caused wholly by alcohol-related conditions.

The NWPHO study extended the count to include deaths where alcohol-related conditions were a partial cause.

In their report, the researchers said that limitations in the evidence available meant that the figures “are a conservative estimate of the harm attributable to alcohol consumption”.

Prof Mark Bellis, Director of the NWPHO, said: “Most people do not realise how many of the body’s systems are affected by alcohol and the relationship, for example, between alcohol and cancer, particularly cancer of the digestive system but also breast cancer.”