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Alcohol death risk: Doctors are warning that thousands of people could die from alchohol in the next 20 years

Health professionals have released a stark warning: alcohol could lead to over 210,000 preventable deaths in England and Wales over the next 20 years unless something is done to reform current laws.

Writing in The Lanclet (thelancet.com), doctors described the UK as being at a "tipping point", but added that: "The potential prize of reversing this tragic toll of alcohol-related deaths is there for the taking."

Many in the health profession are critical of England's "responsibility deal" on alcohol, particularly when compared with the Scottish government's approach to a minimum pricing of alcohol.

It is estimated that around 70,000 deaths could be a result of liver disease, whiole the remaining 140,000 could result from heart diseases, strokes, accidents, violence, high blood pressure and alcohol-related cancers.

The chief executive of Alcohol Concern, Eric Appleby, told the BBC: "What we have to accept is that doing nothing is no longer a responsible option for alcohol policy, and that trying to 'nudge' drinking culture through information and persuasion has proved to be little better than doing nothing.

"We can see from the example of other countries that drinking patterns really can change, the challenge is there for the government to start the process now through the alcohol strategy."

Meanwhile David Cameron has reiterated his determination to tackle the problem of alcohol abuse. The Department of Health is due to publish its alcohol startegy for England later in the year. Ministers are expected to recommend a higher minimum price for alcoholic drinks.

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