What causes breast and oral cancer, heart disease, strokes, liver cirrhosis, depression, memory impairment and reduced fertility? . . . . . . . . Alcohol.
More dangerous than heroine
NHS figures show that alcohol related hospital admissions peaked in 2010 when over a million people were admitted. Alcohol Concern predicts that by 2015, the annual number of hospital admissions due to alcohol will reach 1.5m, and cost the NHS £3.7bn a year. A 2010 study in The Lancet suggests that alcohol is more dangerous than heroine. A study by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs agrees, and ranks alcohol as three times more harmful than cocaine or tobacco.
The WHO's 2014 Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health said that in 2012 there were 3.3m alcohol related deaths worldwide, and called on governments to implement policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
˜Yes minister" government response
The UK government guidelines on drinking are being reviewed. Currently, they suggest hat a women should not drink more than two to three units of alcohol per day, and a man three to four units. But medical experts argue that people don't realise how much they're drinking.
Although the toxicity of alcohol is complex, there's a significant relationship between the greater the alcohol intake per week, and the greater the liver damage. Over the past 25 years, UK deaths from liver disease have increased by 500%; the overwhelming majority alcohol related. Only in the last few years has this increase slowed. Alcohol has a bigger impact than smoking on health because alcohol kills at a younger age. The average age of death for someone with alcoholic liver disease is their 40s.
Moderate alcohol consumption raises good cholesterol, stops the formation of blood clots in the arteries, and helps protect against heart disease. Drinking more than three drinks a day has a direct and damaging effect on the heart. Heavy drinking, particularly over time, can lead to high blood pressure, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure and stroke. Heavy drinking also puts more fat into the circulation of the body, which is dangerous for the heart.