Page last updated at 00:40 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Alcohol kills twice as many men

Image of a man drinking
Alcohol is the cause of death for twice as many men than women

The number of men dying from alcohol misuse in Scotland each year is double the rate for women, a new study claims.

A team from Glasgow University and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have compiled an "alcohol death map" showing mortality rates across the country.

They found that most alcohol-related deaths occurred in the Glasgow area.

The researchers said the findings went against the prevailing public perception that alcohol abuse was more prevalent among young women.

On average almost 1,000 Scottish men and 448 women die from alcohol related illness each year.

The findings, to be published online, revealed the male death rate was 38 deaths per 100,000 while for women the figure was 16 deaths.

The study has come as the Scottish Government prepares to publish its new approach to tackling Scotland's "booze culture".

Scotland is facing a huge public health problem which will require strong and radical action by the Scottish government
Dr Richard Mitchell
Study author
New legislation was put out to consultation last year and included controversial proposals to raise the age limit for buying alcohol in shops from 18 to 21.

The authors of this latest study said they aimed to establish a clearer picture of the gender and geographical divide in alcohol-related deaths in Scotland.

Dr Carol Emslie said: "We wanted to find out whether environment influenced the rate of alcohol-related deaths in both men and women across Scotland.

"In doing this, we looked at three main questions - which areas have the highest rates of alcohol-related death in Scotland, are these areas the same for men and women, and are there areas in Scotland where the gap between men and women's alcohol-related death rates is unusually large or small?"

The researchers divided Scotland into 144 areas based on the last population census.

They then obtained records of alcohol-related deaths between 2000 and 2005 for each of these areas from the General Register Office for Scotland.

'Social pressures'

The Ibrox area of Glasgow had the highest rates with 176 deaths per 100,000 for men and 58 deaths for women.

Co-author Dr Richard Mitchell said: "In the vast majority of areas, 136 out of 144, the gap between men's and women's alcohol-related death rate was as expected.

"Areas with high rates for men tended to have high rates for women. Similarly, areas with low rates of alcohol-related death for men tend to have low rates for women."

He added: "Scotland is facing a huge public health problem which will require strong and radical action by the Scottish Government.

"It is interesting that the areas in which alcohol-related deaths are a particular problem are largely the same for men and women.

"The results suggest to us that both men and women are vulnerable to the social, economic and cultural pressures which can make people drink too much."

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