Press release

Fewer adults dying from conditions directly caused by alcohol

Fewer adults dying from conditions directly caused by alcohol, but deaths from related conditions, such as cancer, rise by 1%.

New figures from Public Health England show fewer adults are dying from alcohol-specific conditions, such as alcoholic liver disease and alcohol poisonings.

The latest update to the Local Alcohol Profiles for England (LAPE) data tool shows that nationally, alcohol-specific deaths fell by 3% to 17,755 deaths. Alcohol-related deaths have seen a slight increase, year on year, from an estimated 22,330 in 2012 to 22,976 in 2014. Alcohol-related deaths include conditions that are partially related to alcohol, such as heart disease and certain cancers.

A 3% decrease in alcohol-specific deaths is promising, however, a lot of the ill health we are seeing associated with alcohol, such as heart disease and cancer, is among people who are not dependent, but who drink frequently and are unaware of the risks. In both alcohol-specific and alcohol-related death rates, the rate for men is almost double that of women.

For the first time, the LAPE tool includes data on alcohol-related road traffic accidents. This shows that between 2012 and 2014, in 2.6% of reported road traffic accidents, 1 or more driver failed a breath test.

There continues to be large variations in alcohol-related harms across the country, with 165 local authorities seeing an increase in alcohol-related deaths in 2014 and 161 seeing a drop.

Substantial health inequalities continue to exist for both men and women, with the rate of liver disease in the most deprived areas double the rate in the least deprived.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE said:

There are over 10 million people in England drinking alcohol at increasingly harmful levels putting them at risk of conditions such as cancer. For women who drink, they are 20% more likely to get breast cancer than those that don’t.

Alcohol harms individuals, families and communities and it’s crucial that, alongside effective local interventions and treatment for those that need it, we look more widely at what affects drinking behaviour in this country. Public Health England will soon be providing a report to Government on how we can reduce the harms caused by alcohol.

The LAPE tool presents data for 23 alcohol-related indicators in an interactive tool, which helps local areas assess alcohol-related harm and monitor the progress of efforts to reduce this.

Background information

The Local Alcohol Profiles for England have been updated with 2014 data, including by local authority area and region. Main findings include:

  • alcohol-specific deaths fell to 17,755 in the 3 year period 2012 to 2014. Down 3% compared to the previous 3-year period (3.1% fall among men and a 2.5% fall among women)

  • alcohol-related mortality rose slightly (by 0.8%) to 22,967 deaths in 2014, compared to 22,779 in 2013

  • in both alcohol-specific and alcohol-related mortality, the rate for men is almost double that of women.

  • the mortality rate from chronic liver disease remain unchanged (17,238 deaths in 2012 to 2014) but has reduced since 2006, showing signs of a downward trend (a 7% drop overall since the start of the LAPE series in 2006 to 2008) which would bring England in line with other European countries

  • the rate of alcohol-related road traffic accidents in England fell by 5% (to 26.4 per 1000 road traffic accidents, 10,157 accidents) for the latest time period (2012 to 2014) compared to the previous period (2011 to 2013)

The Chief Medical Officer alcohol guidelines have been updated and are under consultation, advising men and women to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health.

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Public Health England press office