Up to 210,000 people in England and Wales will be killed prematurely by alcohol over the next 20 years, with a third of those preventable deaths due to liver disease alone, health experts warned Monday.
Other alcohol-related deaths will be due to accidents, violence and suicide, or from chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease and cancer, the experts warned in a projection study in the Lancet medical journal.
Yet Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians and one of the lead authors of the work, said it was “entirely within the power of the UK government” to take steps to tackle Britain’s drink problem and “prevent the worst-case scenario of avoidable deaths.”
The experts pointed to measures taken in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, which they said saw alcohol consumption fall by a third in two years with a resulting 12 percent drop in the rate of alcohol-related deaths.
The warning comes after British Prime Minister David Cameron promised last week to crack down on excessive drinking, calling it a “scandal” that costs the taxpayer-funded National Health System an estimated 2.7 billion pounds ($4.3 billion) a year.
Britain has one of the highest drinking rates in the world, shocking new figures have revealed. The average drinker in the UK has 15-and-a-half litres of pure alcohol a year - the equivalent of 775 pints of beer.
That’s the same as 500 glasses of strong wine or 1000 shots of whisky or other spirits. Only eastern European countries such as Russia, Croatia and Estonia drink more.
Although Britain’s overall alcohol consumption was 13th highest in the world behind former Soviet Bloc countries, it drinks the fourth highest amount of beer in the world.
The research was carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which measured alcohol consumption between 2000 and 2005.
Alcohol abuse and the harmful health effects of heavy or binge drinking are not only a British problem, but take their toll in many other mainly wealthy nations around the world.
A study last week found that 7.5 million children in the United States - more than 10 percent of child population - live with an alcoholic parent and are at increased risk of developing a host of health problems of their own.
In Britain, men drank around twice as much as women during the same period.
The average consumption for males as 22 litres of pure alcohol a year compared with just nine and a half litres for women.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 2.5 million people die each year from the harmful use of alcohol, accounting for about 3.8 percent of all deaths worldwide.