Booze takes toll on mens lives
Under the weather: A man sleeps in the Northbridge Piazza. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

Alcohol causes one in 20 deaths of WA men, more than a third from injuries, the first report of its kind in Australia has found.

An analysis of alcohol-caused harm shows that after Northern Territorians, West Australians drink the most and have the highest rate of alcohol-related fatalities - 5.7 per cent of all deaths in men and 3.5 per cent of those in women in 2010.

The report by Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and the Victorian Health Department, is the first to provide a State comparison of alcohol harm and shows significantly higher rates than previously reported.

It shows that alcohol causes 15 deaths and hospitalises 430 Australians a day.

The biggest harm in men is from injuries such as accidents and alcohol poisoning, followed by cancer and digestive diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver.

In women, one in three alcohol-related deaths is because of heart disease.

The report found that while light drinking can reduce heart disease risk, particularly in women, the benefit is small compared with the harm.

Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry Slevin said the figures were sobering for West Australians and reinforced the importance of recent campaigns highlighting the link between alcohol consumption and cancer risk.

"As the report comes at the end of Dry July, it might prompt more people to think seriously about a drier August through to June too," he said.

McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth director Mike Daube said it was worrying that WA was "up on the podium" when it came to alcohol consumption and harm.

"This isn't about stopping people drinking but it shows the longer-term harms of alcohol and the significant increase in hospitalisations and the massive cost involved," he said.

The West Australian

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