More working years lost to alcohol than cancer

Health & NHS

More working years lost to alcohol than cancer



More working years were lost to alcohol consumption than cancer in England in 2018, according to data from Public Health England.


Mortality data for 2018 from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was used to calculate the potential working years of life lost for those who died before the age of 65 years. The results show that there were an estimated 178,933 working years lost due to alcohol, which is approximately 18 per cent of the total working years lost. This is stands at just over one million (1,005,868), which is the highest number recorded since 2011.  The report shows that those aged just 45 to 54 accounted for greatest proportion, with a total of 57,558 working years of life lost in 2018, followed by those aged 35-44 who contributed 47,243 working years of life lost. Liver disease, 60 per cent of which is caused by alcohol, is now the leading cause of death in those aged between 35-49 years old. Premature deaths from liver disease due to alcohol consumption led to nearly 50,000 working years of life lost in 2018, according to the report. PHE has also revealed that working years lost to alcohol are far greater than the total combined working years lost to the 10 leading causes of cancer death in 2018. This accounted for 136,559 working years lost in England, approximately 40,000 years fewer than the estimated years lost due to alcohol. 


Men had almost three times more working years of life lost than women at 131,403 compared to 47,530 years lost.


Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment at alcohol addiction treatment experts UKAT said: “Unfortunately, alcohol-related deaths often occur at relatively young ages, and so it is important to consider the wider impact alcohol has on both the individual and society.  “Reports like this one are instrumental in our understanding of the problem, but most importantly, in using the information to instigate positive change. But where is the Government’s commitment to tackling alcohol abuse in this country? Why are our leaders continuing to bury their heads in the sand about how impactful alcohol is?”


Further information and support with alcohol misuse is available on the UKAT website

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