BOOZY Wiganers are putting their wellbeing in danger through their love of a good tipple, the borough’s public health director is warning.
More than a quarter of the borough’s population of adults over the age of 16 are drinking alcohol at levels that risk damaging their health, according to the latest health figures released by Wigan Council. Wigan is currently ranked ninth-worst for hospital admissions on alcohol-related grounds out of 326 local authority areas, while 120 people in the borough died from conditions caused by drink between 2008 and 2010.
Research also suggests that liver disease is the only one of the five main causes of death which is increasing in Wigan, while the age at which residents are drinking themselves into an early grave has become younger.
The local authority has responded to these alarming figures with a hard-hitting message urging people to consume their favourite alcoholic beverages responsibly and be aware of the consequences of too much drinking.
Director of public health Prof Kate Ardern said: “Many people simply do not realise the risk of drinking too much alcohol. The majority of people who die from alcohol consumption are not alcoholics; but they have drunk too much alcohol over a long period of time. People should be aware that the recommended limits are lower than they may think. For women it’s two to three units a day which is usually equivalent to a large glass of wine.
For men it’s three to four units a day, which is around two pints of lager. So it is all too easy to put your health at serious risk.
“Alcohol used to be a luxury, but it is now widely available and often sold at pocket money prices.”
The biggest increases in alcohol-related deaths in recent years have been in fatalities due to liver disease in early middle age, digestive cancers and dementia related to drinking excessively. Chronic liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, have been rising over the past 10 years while death rates from heart disease, strokes, cancers and respiratory diseases have all gone down.
Both male and female drinkers dying from alcohol-related liver diseases have seen their life expectancies drop, with the peak age for deaths in men now between 45 and 49 and that for women at just 40 to 44 years.
The shocking Wigan figures also mirror a national trend of hospitals seeing patients suffering severe and fatal liver diseases at an earlier age. In response Wigan Council has launched a range of measures to combat excess drinking.
These include backing the Dry January campaign which asks people to abstain from alcohol for an entire month each year to working with health trainers, GPs and hospital staff to spread information about how much people are drinking and help those who need to cut down.
Anyone needing advice or support can also contact the Wigan and Leigh Recovery Partnership on 01942 487578, visit www.nhs.uk/livewell or ring Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.