Last Call: Alcohol-Related Deaths For British Women Soaring

on July 19 2013 2:20 PM

Rising numbers of British are dying from alcohol-related illnesses, according to a new study by the Glasgow Centre for Population, which calls the results a “warning signal.” Looking at subjects in the cities of Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, the survey published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health uncovered that deaths from alcohol-related causes for women born after 1970 have doubled over the past two decades, while the death rate for men in the similar age bracket has actually fallen slightly.

However, men (mostly in their 40s and 50s) still account for the vast majority of alcohol-related deaths in the country. Nearly 9,000 people in the U.K. die annually from alcohol abuse, BBC reported. "Although men have a higher level of alcohol-related deaths than women, because the rate of increase in females is greater than in men, what you are seeing is a narrowing in the gap in this the youngest [age] cohort," study author Dr. Deborah Shipton told Britain’s Sky News.

The increase in women drinking alcohol may partially reflect the fairer sex’s access to more career opportunities, higher pay and participation in more social functions. However, given the cheap and easy availability of alcohol, women from deprived areas are also falling prey to the dangers of liquor. Shipton herself blamed the affordability of alcoholic beverages in tandem with marketing efforts by the liquor industry to make drinking seem stylish, glamorous and attractive.

"What we need to tackle this, apart from raising greater health awareness about the dangers of excessive drinking, is legislation, be that through tighter government controls over licensing, broader debate about the health issues facing not just women but also men ... and, of course, minimum pricing of alcohol," she added. Sally Marlow, from the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London, told BBC that the report amounts to a "ticking time bomb" for British women, and part of the problem is that females are imitating self-destructive impulses of men. "We had women very out there, embracing male [behavior] -- one of which was excessive drinking," she said.

Shipton called for immediate action by health authorities. "Failure to have a policy response to this new trend may result in the effects of this increase being played out for decades to come," she wrote. Shipton also criticized the governments in England and Wales for failing to impose minimum pricing on liquor.

In response to the concerns raised by the report, a spokesman for the Department of Health told BBC: "We know that more action is needed to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol,” citing that the government has already banned alcohol sales below the level of duty plus value-added-tax [VAT] to “tackle the worst cases of super cheap and harmful alcohol, meaning it will no longer be legal to sell a can of ordinary lager for less than around 40 pence.” The spokesman added: "We're also strengthening the ban on irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs and challenging industry to increase its efforts through… responsibility. "

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