Alcohol related deaths are significantly higher in Wales than in England, new research shows.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) released data this week which showed Wales has a higher proportion of heavy drinkers than England (16 per cent compared with 13 per cent respectively).
The research highlights about 18 people per 100,000 population in Wales died from an alcohol-related cause in 2012 compared to 14.7 per 100,000 in England.
The death rate for females in Wales was significantly higher than in England in 2012 (10.4 compared with 7.3 per 100,000 population). For females in Wales, rates increased significantly from 7.3 per 100,000 in 2002 to 10.4 per 100,000 in 2012.
Dr Bev John, head of research in Psychology at the University of South Wales, said alcohol consumption data has been underestimated in the last few years and people are drinking significantly more than they used to.
Dr John said: “Alcohol-related liver disease tends to be caused by excessive, chronic alcohol consumption over a long period. There has been some interesting research done around what people actually report they drink and how much alcohol is actually sold in the UK over a year and you will find there are billions of litres of missing alcohol in that sort of research.
“People are drinking more than is being reported, and the patterns of consumption in young women particularly, which have changed for various culture reasons and economic reasons over the last 20 or 30 years have resulted in what is potentially the beginning of an epidemic of alcohol-related liver disease.
“Liver specialists are confirming these trends and have been doing for about the last 15 years really so it is very worrying and I think we are at the thin end of a wedge.”
Andrew Misell, Director of Alcohol Concern Cymru, said: “We are facing historically high levels of health harms caused by alcohol misuse, with over a million alcohol-related hospital admissions each year in the UK anyway, and we’re one of the few European countries where liver disease is on the increase. To tackle this we’re urging the Government to take tougher action including introducing minimum unit pricing.”