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Decline in male doctors dying from alcohol-related illnesses

24 August 2007

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New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that male GPs are now less likely to die of an alcohol-related illness than they were 40 years ago.

And the ONS report, which studied such deaths in England and Wales between 2001 and 2005, shows that male doctors are now 40% less likely than the general population to suffer an alcohol-related death.

According to the ONS, statistics from the 1960s, 70s and 80s put male doctors among those who were at greatest risk.

Ester Romeri, who presented the organisation’s findings, said a cultural change in the medical profession in recent years towards drinking, and a shift in the ethnic mix of doctors working in England and Wales, may be responsible for the fall.

Professor Martin Plant, an alcohol addiction expert from the University of the West of England, said: “There are often common characteristics related to the likelihood of drinking and therefore alcohol-related deaths.

“What is important is whether the occupation has a drinking culture, the availability of alcohol and the toleration of drinking at work.”

An alcohol-related death may involve liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver or alcohol poisoning, according to the ONS definition.

The latest study looked at 13,011 deaths among men and 3,655 deaths among women.

Bar staff were found to be the most likely workers in England and Wales to suffer an alcohol-related death.

Male bar staff were 2.23 times as likely to die that way as members of the general population, while female bar staff were 2.03 times as likely.

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Office for National Statistics