[summary] Health at a Glance 2017 | OECD iLibrary

  • Alcohol consumption in the OECD averaged 9 litres of pure alcohol per person per year, equivalent to almost 100 bottles of wine. This figure is driven by the sizeable share of heavy drinkers: 30% of men and 12% of women binge-drink at least once per month.
  • In 13 OECD countries alcohol consumption has increased since 2000, most notably in Belgium, Iceland, Latvia and Poland.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is also a considerable health burden, associated to increased risk for a range of illnesses, including cancer, stroke, liver disease, as well as social problems, with an estimated 2.3m deaths per year.
  • A recent OECD report found that in general better educated women were more likely to drink excessively, though the opposite held true for men. At the same time, alcohol-related harm is more prevalent among less educated and low-income groups, partly because of multiple comorbidities (coexisting risk factors) and lower access to health care.
  • International comparison of adults:

  • International comparison of teenagers:


Source: www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/8117301e.pdf?expires=1510318090

[cutting/comment] Alcohol and cancer: What does a ‘500% increase’ in risk really mean? | Health News Review

Last night, NBC Nightly News ran a story about the cancer risks related to alcohol consumption. But instead of communicating those risks in a way that would educate and inform, NBC’s coverage was an example of misinformation and fear-mongering. … Viewers who think an MD byline ensures the ultimate in accurate and balanced TV reporting should think again.

Source: www.healthnewsreview.org/2017/11/alcohol-cancer-500-increase-risk-really-mean/

Comment:  Agreed: Journalists should try to include absolute risk in their stories. So we should not just say, for instance, that the odds of something happening has doubled, but from what. Has it gone from, say, one in a million to two in a million or from one in three to two in three? That said, indications of absolute risk are often not readily available. Journalists cannot be expected to do the advanced statistical conjuring needed to turn relative risk into absolute risk, whether or not they are medical doctors. Medical doctors too are also rarely advanced statisticians, nor can they be expected to be familiar with all the epidemiological nuances they would need to perform such a manipulation. I would also shy away from interfering with data in this way, knowing as a rusty mathematician that it is unlikely to be straightforward. In this particular case, as in many others, the statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology only contains figures for relative risk (see table), although this accompanying release says 5-6% of new cancers and cancer deaths are “directly attributable to alcohol”. The society told Alcohol Companion that its figures imply around 3,326 deaths from alcohol related cancer for every 100,000 cancer deaths, meaning alcohol is involved in around 1 in 30 cancer deaths. Incidentally, heavy drinking appears to multiply the risk of head and neck cancer by five, which is a 400% increase in risk, rather than the 500% in the graphic and headline. It would be interesting to know if the society has more detailed absolute risk figures for each type of cancer. Typically news stories will need to be reported well before any request for additional figures is answered. ■

[summary] Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK – Office for National Statistics | Office of National Statistics

  • In 2016 there were 7,327 alcohol-specific deaths in the UK, an age-standardised rate of 11.7 deaths per 100,000 population.
  • For the UK, the 2016 alcohol-specific deaths rate continues to remain unchanged since 2013, but is still higher than that observed 15 years ago.
  • Since 2001 rates of alcohol-specific deaths among males have been an average of 55% higher than those observed among females.
  • For both sexes, rates of alcohol-specific deaths were highest among those aged 55 to 64 years in 2016.
  • Scotland remains the constituent country with the highest rate of alcohol-specific deaths in 2016; yet Scotland has also seen the largest decrease in its rates since they peaked in the early 2000s.
  • In England, and for both sexes, alcohol-specific death rates in 2016 were significantly higher in the most deprived local areas when compared with the least deprived local areas.

Source: www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/bulletins/alcoholrelateddeathsintheunitedkingdom/registeredin2016

[summary] Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England (2016) | NHS Digital

  • 44% of 11-15 year old pupils had ever drunk alcohol, which is not comparable with earlier surveys*
  • Whether a pupil had drunk alcohol was related to their age, increasing from 15% of 11 year olds to 73% of 15 year olds.
  • 51% of white pupils and 45% of Mixed ethnicity pupils had ever had an alcoholic drink, compared to 28% of black pupils, and only 13% of Asian pupils
  • 10% had drunk alcohol in the last week
  • Pupils who drank alcohol in the last week consumed an average (mean) of 9.6 units that week
  • The proportion increased with age, from 1% of 11 year olds to 24% of 15 year olds.
  • A large majority of young people (77%) considered their parents to be a source of helpful information about drinking alcohol.
  • Teachers were the most commonly identified helpful source of information outside of the family setting (by 64% of pupils).
  • TV was the most popular source of helpful information about drinking (59%), with the internet also being a popular choice (58%).

*This is because the question was changed to, “Have you ever had an alcoholic drink–a whole drink, not just a sip?” having previously been about whether they had consumed a “proper drink”, a term which caused confusion.