We don’t want to alarm you, but at least in Great Britain, baby boomers are showing the ill-effects of hard living. They suffer a dramatic increase in liver disease and chronic drunkenness. Here’s a report from Laura Donnelly, the Health Correspondent for London’s paper, The Telegraph.
Britain’s baby boomer generation is suffering the toll of decades of high-living, according to official figures which show alcohol-related hospital admissions among those in their 60s have tripled in a decade.
The statistics show that among thoseaged 45 and above, the numbers admitted to hospital as a result of drinking have more than doubled in a decade.
The steepest rises are among men andwomen in their 60s, who came of age amid increasingly liberal attitudes to alcohol.
Although there have also been rises in admissions among younger adults, they were far less steep – although sharp rises were seen among women in their 20s.
The figures, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, disclose a dramatic increase in liver disease and drunkenness among the middle aged over the last decade.
Last night, liver experts said oldergenerations were suffering “frightening” consequences of an era in which alcohol has flowed increasingly freely, with middle-class professionals increasingly reaching for the bottle at the end of every day.
Separate analysis shows that since 1970, deaths from liver disease have risen five-fold among those under the age of 65 – while mortality from every other major disease has fallen.
The NHS figures show that in 2012/13, more than 26,000 mean and 12,00 women between the ages of 45 and 49 ended up in hospital purely a result of alcohol- the highest figure for any age group.
Experts said this was the cumulativeeffect of life-long drinking by the baby boomer generation, who had got used to drinking more as the relative cost of alcohol fell and wine and stronger beers became increasingly popular.
Dr Nick Sheron, a liver specialist from the University of Southampton, said analysis of death rates in the UK for those under 65 shows a five-fold increase in in mortality from liver disease since 1970 – largely as a result of alcohol – while deaths from all other major diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, have fallen.
He said: “What we are seeing is really dramatic and absolutely tragic. Society’s relationship with alcohol has changed fundamentally in the past few decades – it has been a really profound change and this is the impact of it.”
The figures also show more than doubling in admissions among women in their 20s, with commentators warning that a “ladette culture” is having repercussions with increasing numbers treated in hospital for liver disease at a younger age.
The figures show that over the past decade, there has been a 111 per cent increase in admissions among women aged 20 to 24, and a 124 per cent rise among those aged 25 to 29.
More than 10,600 women in their 20s are now admitted for alcohol every year.
Among men aged 20 to 24, the rise was of 85 per cent, while it was 81 per cent among those in their late 20s, with more than 18,000 admissions among those in their 20s.
Dr Sheron said: “It used to be that alcohol was sold largely in pubs and we thought wine was a filthy continental habit. Now we see people drinking far more wine and also spirits – there have been massive changes in women’s habits so that today we see white wine at the end of almost every supermarket aisle.”
Eric Appleby, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern said: “Too many of us of all ages are drinking too much, too often and risking our health because of it.”
He said the charity’s own research found that it was “the middle-aged, and often middle class drinker” who is regulatrly drinking above recommended limits, and ended up in need of NHS care, or suffering irreversable damage.
He said: “We have to wake up to the scale of the problem across the whole of society if we’re to reverse these frightening statistics.”
Julia Manning, chief executive of 2020Health think tank, said: “Middle-aged, middle-class drinkers are drinking much more than they realise. They are drinking more frequently, they are drinking stronger alcohol and they are using it as a common antidote for stress.
“On top of this is the cumulative effect of drinking over the years. We have become ever more rebellious in recent decades and it makes me wonder whether there has been a significant cultureshift away from taking responsibility and behaving like a grown-up.”
The figures show that in 2012/13, 202,000 men and 87,000 women were admitted to hospital for reasons that were “wholly” attributable to alcohol. A further 572,000 men and 365,000 women were admitted with a condition that was partially attributable to alcohol, the statistics show.