Monday, July 24, 2017

Capitalism Kills

Almost 63,000 people in England will die over the next five years from liver problems linked to heavy drinking unless ministers tackle the scourge of cheap alcohol, doctors are warning. Senior members of the medical profession and health charities are urging the government to bring in minimum unit pricing of alcohol and a crackdown on drink advertising to avert what they claim is the “public health crisis” of liver disease deaths.

Sheffield University’s influential Alcohol Research Group predicts that 32,475 of the deaths – the equivalent of 35 a day – will be the result of liver cancer and another 22,519 from alcoholic liver disease. Liver disease is one of Britain’s biggest killers, claiming about 12,000 lives a year in England alone. The number of deaths associated with it has risen by 400% since 1970. 

Katherine Brown, director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, accused the government of not doing enough to limit alcohol-related harm. "Wwe have seen very little action to prevent liver disease, one of the top causes of avoidable deaths. It is tragic that, at a time when there is strong evidence for policies that will reduce avoidable deaths and hospital admissions, especially those related to alcohol, so many families will continue to suffer due to the ill-health or loss of a loved one,” she said.

The Sheffield academics have also produced new calculations showing that, if a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol were introduced in England, within five years it would mean 1,150 fewer deaths due to drink, 74,500 fewer admissions to hospital because of alcohol, a £326m saving to the NHS and a £711m drop in the value of crime caused by alcohol consumption. The new study comes as the supreme court, the UK’s highest court, on Monday and Tuesday holds the latest round in the long-running legal battle over the Scottish government’s determination to bring in a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol, as it has been trying to do since 2012. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and others are appealing against the Scottish court of session’s earlier ruling that the policy could be implemented.

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), welcomed the Sheffield report’s clear and compelling new evidence ... on the effectiveness of minimum unit pricing [MUP]. "Given what we know about the effectiveness of MUP, a failure to act on the part of the government will mean that some of the most vulnerable in society will die unnecessarily,” Gilmore added.

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