Alcohol led to higher loss of working years in the UK than cancer, study shows

Almost one fifth of working years from lives lost in England were down to alcohol consumption – overtaking those lost to cancerAlmost one fifth of working years in England were down to alcohol consumption – overtaking those lost to cancer.

Using mortality data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the report calculated the potential working years of life lost for individuals who died before the age of 65 years.

And data shows that in 2018, alcohol consumption led to an estimated 178,933 lost working years in England. This amounts to 18% of the overall working years lost, which stands at just over one million in total.

This is the highest figure recorded since 2011.

Wider impact on society

The report highlights that those aged just 45 to 54 contributed the most to lost working years, with a figure of 57,558 in 2018.

The 34 to 44 age group follows with 47,243 working years of life lost.

Public Health England (PHE) showed that the number of working years lost to alcohol are significantly greater than the total combined for the 10 leading causes of cancer death in 2018.

Nuno Albuquerque is head of treatment at UKAT, an addiction treatment centre.

‘Unfortunately, alcohol-related deaths often occur at relatively young ages. It is important to consider the wider impact alcohol has on both the individual and society,’ he said.

‘Reports like this one are instrumental in our understanding of the problem. But most importantly, in using the information to instigate positive change.’

Alcohol abuse

He added: ‘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. Alcohol is killing off our working economy – 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?’

The report also revealed that liver disease is now the leading cause of death in those aged between 35 and 49 years old. Around three fifths of liver disease is caused by drinking alcohol.

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