The number of problem drinkers in Britain is rising and a report claims women are to blame.

Public Health England has published its latest review into alcohol harm in the medical journal, the Lancet. The report claims that alcohol sales in England and Wales are 42 per cent higher than they were three decades ago.

And 10 million people in Britain are drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol, despite campaigns designed to raise awareness of the risks. The review also reveals that Britain is one of the only nations in Western Europe where the number of alcohol-related deaths is going up.

Public Health England’s report said women were now drinking more alcohol, which had fuelled an increase in sales. It also claimed that people were now consuming drinks with a higher alcohol content and that booze was more affordable than it was in the early 1980s.

It said: “The majority of people in England drink alcohol, and for many, it is associated with positive aspects of life.

“However, a substantial number of people experience harm from their own or others’ drinking.”

The number of people dying from liver disease – often caused by heavy drinking – has increased four-fold in Britain in 1970. In contrast, most other countries have seen the number of deaths from liver disease fall over the same period.

Government could bring in minimum pricing

The Government may now reconsider plans to introduce a minimum cost per unit of alcohol to stop people buying large amounts of booze at bargain prices.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The issue of minimum unit pricing is under review.”

Public Health England’s national director of health and wellbeing Professor Kevin Fenton said: “Excessive alcohol consumption can harm children, wreck families, impact on workplace colleagues and can be a burden and drain on the NHS and economy. It hits poor communities the hardest.

“As a nation we are drinking more alcohol than we did in the past and there are more than one million alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, half of which occur among the most deprived groups. This evidence review will help local and national government and public services like the police and NHS to develop policies designed to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol.”

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