Record numbers of men die from alcohol-related conditions

03/02/21 . News

Alcohol-related deaths were at record levels last year.

England and Wales needed dry January like never before as alcohol-related deaths increased 16% in the nine months to the end of September 2020. The age-standardised death rate from alcohol-specific conditions hit a peak of 12.8 deaths per 100,000 people in January to March 2020 - the highest rate since records of this type began in 2001. (Alcohol-specific deaths are usually higher in the first quarter of the year.)

Men twice as likely to die

Men continue to die of alcohol-related causes at twice the rate of women. The male death rate from alcohol-related conditions was 17.3 -17.8 deaths per 100,000 compared with a rate for females of 8.0-8.6 deaths per 100,000.

The Forum's CEO Martin Tod said: 'These figures are extremely worrying. We know men are more likely than women to self-medicate with alcohol. This increase in deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates how important it is to tackle the mental health problems that can lead to the abuse of alcohol rather than just see the drinking problem itself.

'Once again, this is evidence of the need for a gender-sensitive approach around alcohol, around Covid-19 and around public health and health policy in general.'

Younger drinkers

These figures only include deaths as a direct consequence of wholly attributable causes such as alcoholic liver disease. It doesn’t include the deaths in which alcohol may well have played a significant part.

For this reason, deaths tend to be in older people as they have usually been abusing alcohol over a longer period of time. However, the three months from April to June 2020 saw significant increases in rates for those aged 30 to 49 and the three months July to September saw significant increases in rates for those aged 40 to 69 years.

Scotland's success

The Alcohol Health Alliance UK, of which the Forum is a member, attributes the rise to the relatively low cost of alcohol. AHA chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said:  'Alcohol is now 74% cheaper than it was thirty years ago, and its availability at low prices is having a catastrophic impact on our nation’s health. Scotland is the only nation in the UK to record a significant decrease in death rates since 2001, and this is thanks to the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to improving public health by introducing effective policies such as minimum unit pricing.'

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Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

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