The figures, published by the NHS Information Centre, show our appetite for drink imposes a heavy burden on the NHS / Getty Images

A quarter of the adult population is drinking at levels that are hazardous to their health, a report says today.

One in three men and one in six women drinks so much alcohol that they are at risk of damaging their liver or suffering psychological effects such as depression. Almost one in 10 men and one in 25 women shows signs of alcohol dependence, indicating that they are heading down the road towards alcoholism.

The figures, published by the NHS Information Centre, show our appetite for drink imposes a heavy burden on the NHS. Alcohol-related admissions to hospital in England rose by almost 70 per cent in five years to reach 863,000 in 2007-08. Drugs prescribed to lessen cravings for alcohol rose by 31 per cent. The cost of alcohol-related harm to the NHS in England is £2.7 bn and rising.

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and an alcohol expert, said the falling cost of alcohol in real terms had to be addressed. "The pivotal role of increasing affordability of alcohol over the last few decades as a key factor in increasing consumption and harm has been yet again confirmed," he said.

Comments