Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Miriam Stoppard

'Alcohol warning as regular use can lead to gout, cataract and ulcers'

We know that alcohol is a poison, so we shouldn’t be ­surprised that it increases the risk of over 60 diseases, including many not thought to be linked to alcohol.

Oxford University research has now extended the range of diseases caused by alcohol in one group of people, in this instance, the Chinese.

Alcohol is estimated to be ­responsible for about three million deaths worldwide each year, and while the harmful effects of heavy drinking for certain diseases (liver cirrhosis, stroke and several types of cancer) are well known, what are the other likely conditions?

The researchers used data on 512,000 adults from the China Kadoorie Biobank from 10 diverse urban and rural areas across China. They were interviewed about their lifestyle including alcohol drinking.

About a third of men, but only 2% of women, drank alcohol regularly (i.e. at least once a week). The researchers assessed the health effects of alcohol on over 200 different diseases in men over about 12 years.

Among 207 diseases studied, 33 diseases not known to be alcohol-related were discovered, such as gout, cataracts, some fractures, and gastric ulcers.

There were over 1.1 million ­hospitalisations during the study, and men who had drunk alcohol regularly had a significantly higher risk of any disease and more frequent stays in hospital, compared with men who drank alcohol occasionally.

Drinking in heavy “binge” episodes, or drinking outside mealtimes, increased the risks of certain diseases, particularly liver cirrhosis.

With every four drinks per day there was a 14% higher risk of known alcohol-related diseases, 6% higher risk of diseases not previously known to be alcohol-related, and a more than two-fold higher risk of liver cirrhosis and gout. Higher alcohol intake carried significantly higher risk of stroke.

Pek Kei Im, research fellow at Oxford and lead author, said: “Alcohol consumption is adversely related to a much wider range of diseases than previously established, and findings show these associations are likely to be causal.”

Professor Liming Li, senior author from Peking University, said: “Levels of alcohol consumption are rising in China, particularly among men. This large collaborative study demonstrates a need to strengthen alcohol-control policies in China.”

Iona Millwood, Oxford Professor and senior author, said: “It is becoming clear that the harmful use of alcohol is one of the most important risk factors for poor health, in China and globally.”

Professor Zhengming Chen of Oxford CKB and co-Principal Investigator, said: “This study provides important causal evidence of the scale of alcohol-related harm, critical to inform prevention strategies in different countries.’

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.