College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Alcohol study shows ethnic divide

Native Scots are more than twice as likely to die of alcohol-related causes as Scottish residents born south of the border, a study suggests.

People born in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland living in Scotland were also more than twice as likely to die from alcohol-related conditions as the Welsh or English, the research showed.

Researchers at the University analysed causes of death that were directly related to alcohol - including alcoholic liver disease, accidents and suicide.

They examined the differences in death rates across different ethnic groups in Scotland between 2000 and 2005.

‘Preventable’ deaths

Men born in England and Wales were 64 per cent less likely die as a result of alcohol compared with native Scottish males.

There was no clear difference in alcohol-related deaths between men and women born in Scotland compared to those from Ireland.

There was also little difference between native Scots and people born in India.

The study, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, also showed a 72 per cent lower incidence of alcohol-related deaths among Pakistani born males in Scotland compared with Scottish-born males.

There were no such deaths for Pakistani-born women.

The research was carried out by the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford and the NHS Information Services Division.

Alcohol causes around two thirds of deaths from liver disease in the UK. If we can better understand which ethnic groups are susceptible then we can target alcohol prevention strategies where they are most needed. This study is also a useful reminder that alcohol-related deaths are preventable and that action is required to address this in Scotland.

Raj BhopalProfessor of Public Health at the University

Growing problem

Alcohol-related deaths have more than doubled in the UK between 1991 and 2006, especially in Scotland.

Mortality from liver cirrhosis, the major cause of alcohol-related death, has also risen more steeply in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK.

There are nearly 1,500 deaths each year in Scotland directly attributed to alcohol.