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More pensioners admitted to hospital with alcohol issues

Published 04/05/2016

The number of pensioners being admitted to hospital because of alcohol is on the rise
The number of pensioners being admitted to hospital because of alcohol is on the rise

The number of pensioners being admitted to hospital because of alcohol is on the rise, new figures show.

The rates of people over the age of 65 who are admitted to hospitals in England have been slowly creeping up since around 2008, according to new statistics from Public Health England (PHE).

In 2008/9, 261 people over the age of 65 out of every 100,000 people were admitted to hospital as a result of their drinking.

But by 2014/15 - the latest data available - the figure stood at 275 per 100,000 people.

The figures also show that middle age drinkers have the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions - with 371 people aged 40 to 64 out of every 100,000 people being admitted in 2014/15.

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at PHE, said: "T he harm we are seeing among middle-aged and older drinkers is a concern.

"The highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions for men and women is among those aged 40-64, with admissions for liver disease still rising and a gradual increase in alcohol-related cancers over the past decade.

"Far too many people drink at harmful levels without realising the damage they may be doing. Public Health England is working with national and local partners, looking at measures that will encourage less harmful drinking behaviour."

The figures also show that since 2008/9, the rate of admissions where the primary or a secondary reason for admission was linked to alcohol has increased by 29%.

And c ancer incidence related to alcohol has seen a gradual upward trend over the past decade.

Between 2004 and 2006, the incidence rate of alcohol related cancer stood at 35.3 out of every 100,000 people. Between 2012 and 2014, this figure rose to 38 per 100,000.

Izzi Seccombe, community and w ell-being spokeswoman at the Local Government Association, said: "While it is good news that the rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions is falling in younger age groups, councils have concerns around the rise in admissions among over-65s.

"Despite drinking comparatively little, older people consume alcohol far more often. These figures warn of the dangers of regular drinking over a long period of time and the impact this can have on the body of an older person, which is less able to handle the same level of alcohol as in previous years.

"Many of us like to have a drink to relax and enjoy our free time, but councils, with their responsibility for public health, are committed to helping people cut down on how much they drink, through supporting initiatives such as Dry January, to raise awareness and encourage small lifestyle changes which can have a big impact on improving people's health."

Sarah Toule, head of health information at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: "It is particularly worrying that the age group the most at risk of developing cancer, the over 65s, are seeing an increase in hospital admissions due to alcohol.

"At whatever age, when it comes to cancer prevention, our evidence shows that any amount of alcohol can increase the risk of developing a number of different cancers including breast, bowel and liver.

"In fact, about 24,000 cancer cases could be avoided every year in the UK if everyone stopped drinking alcohol.

"If people do decide to drink, we recommend that they have no more than seven drinks a week spread over at least three days and keep at least a few days alcohol-free."

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