Almost a fifth of working years of life lost in England in 2018 were due to alcohol consumption, overtaking working years lost to cancer, the latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows. Mortality data for 2018 from the Office for National Statistics was used to calculate the potential working years of life lost for individuals who died before the age of 65 years.
The results published this month show that in 2018, there were an estimated 178,933 working years lost due to alcohol in England which amounts to 18% of the total working years lost, which stands at just over 1 million (1,005,868). This is the highest number recorded since 2011.
The younger the person who dies is, the more they individually contribute, as there are more working years of life lost. The report shows that those aged just 45 to 54 contributed the most, with a total of 57,558 working years of life lost in 2018, closely followed by the 35–44 age group who contributed 47,243 working years of life lost.
Furthermore, the report reveals that liver disease – 60% of which is caused by alcohol – is now the leading cause of death in those aged between 35–49 years old. Premature deaths from liver disease due to alcohol consumption led to nearly 50,000 working years of life lost in 2018.
Public Health England has also revealed that working years lost to alcohol are far greater than the total combined working years lost to the 10 leading causes of cancer death in 2018. The 10 leading causes of cancer death led to 136,559 working years lost in England, which is around 40,000 years fewer than the estimated years lost due to alcohol.
In 2018, men (131,403) had almost 3 times more working years of life lost than women (47,530). Nuno Albuquerque, Head of Treatment at alcohol addiction treatment experts UKAT comments on this report: ‘Unfortunately, alcohol-related deaths often occur at relatively young ages, and so it is important to consider the wider impact alcohol has on both the individual and society. Reports like this one are instrumental in our understanding of the problem, but most importantly, in using the information to instigate positive change. But where is the Government’s commitment to tackling alcohol abuse in this country? Why are our leaders continuing to bury their heads in the sand about how impactful alcohol is?
‘These figures clearly show that more and more potential working years of life in this country are lost to alcohol, even more so than the 10 leading Cancers combined. Our working economy is being killed off by alcohol – a substance so socially embedded and accepted, yet so dangerous and addictive. This is frightening, and if this information does not instigate immediate action by our Country’s leaders, then what will?’
For help and support with alcohol misuse, visit UK Addiction and Treatment Centres.
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