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alcohol health alliance uk

Open letter from North East liver specialists

Posted 02/12/11

When it comes to alcohol and the liver, the general rule is that the volume and duration of consumption determines whether someone will have a problem.

As recently as a decade ago, it was unusual for a liver specialist to treat anyone for alcoholic cirrhosis who had not reached their fifties.

Alarmingly, this is no longer the case. In the North East we are in the middle of an epidemic. We have witnessed a 400% increase in the number of 30-34 year olds being admitted into our hospitals with alcoholic liver disease since 2002.

This early onset is due to the fact that people are drinking at much earlier ages and in much greater quantities than ever before. The average adult now consumes just under 11 litres of pure alcohol each year, more than double the levels recorded in the 1950s.

People are consuming in this way because we’ve created an excessively pro-alcohol culture by selling alcohol for pocket money prices, promoting it heavily and widely and making it available 24 hours a day.

It’s clear we need to halt this epidemic in its tracks, otherwise we’ll soon be treating young men and women in their twenties on a regular basis for a disease that is 100% preventable.

That’s why we’re supporting en-masse a campaign which has been launched in our region by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office. It calls for Government to stop the alcohol industry recruiting our children and young people as the next generation of problem drinkers.

By preventing the alcohol industry from reaching children and young people through TV, social networking sites, under 18 films in the cinema and sponsorship of sporting and youth events, we begin to make drinking early and in large quantities less normal and less acceptable. We begin to change the excessively pro-alcohol culture which the alcohol industry spends an estimated £800m a year on marketing to sustain.

We need everyone who is concerned about the lives and futures of our children and young people to back this campaign and sign the petition at

Yours sincerely,