Simple, cheap and effective changes to alcohol policy by both the EU and its member states have the potential to dramatically reduce liver mortality in Europe, according to research published this month by Professor Nick Sheron, RCP representative on EU Alcohol Policies and Head of Clinical Hepatology at the University of Southampton.
Discussing the research, entitled Alcohol and liver disease in Europe – Simple measures have the potential to prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths, Professor Nick Sheron said:
The link between alcohol consumption and liver mortality is clear cut, as is the evidence linking effective alcohol policy to liver mortality. Were the liver mortality in the worst member states to be brought down to the EU average, 14,000 deaths could be prevented each year. Were liver mortality rates in the EU to be brought in line with the EU minimum then around 46,000 liver deaths would be prevented each year.
The case for action on alcohol-related harm could not possibly be clearer. The most effective and cost-effective interventions actually raise money for hard-pressed governments and are more likely to increase rather than decrease productivity.
The most effective and cost effective measures have been summarised by the OECD and the World Health Organisation: regular incremental above inflation tax increases, a minimum price for alcohol, effective protection of children from alcohol marketing and low level interventions from clinicians.