An NHS chief has said alcohol is becoming a 'silent killer' in the UK as he warned middle class drinkers that a glass of wine is just as harmful as downing three shots of vodka.
Duncan Selbie, the head of Public Health England, said deaths from alcohol-related illnesses had soared by 500 per cent since the seventies to become the third biggest killer of working age people in the UK. Britain is now the only country in western Europe except Finland where cases of liver disease are increasing.
Mr Selbie added that the middle classes would often pour themselves a glass of wine at the end of the day with 'no idea' how much they were actually drinking.
Glasses size has also increased alongside our alcohol consumption so drinkers can be pouring themselves more without realising it.
Last week the Lancet commission said Britain is turning into the capital of Europe for alcohol-related disease as they recommended that liver scans should be offered by GPs.
In his weekly staff briefing, Mr Selbie said liver disease is largely preventable but was a 'silent killer with 75 per cent of people with cirrhosis only being diagnosed once they are admitted to hospital.
'Liver disease is largely preventable with the three big risk factors being alcohol – for example, a large glass of wine is like three shots of vodka, so it is very easy for people to pour a glass and have no idea how much they are drinking.'
Fiona Bruce, the Labour MP, agreed, telling the Telegraph: 'This is an issue we need to take much more seriously, and revise our view of the binge drinker as a teenager out late at night.'Increasingly too high levels of alcohol consumption are occurring in the home by older age groups and we all have a responsibility to challenge and help address this.'
Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, chair of the all Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, said drinkers would be safer to enjoy their favourite tipple in the local pub which had a 'legal responsibility' to give controlled measures and not allow punters to get too drunk.
Tracey Crouch, the former chair of the alcohol misuse group, and Conservative MP she was 'really pleased' the issue had been raised by Public Health England to try and encourage people to change their drinking habits.
'People will see it is a very different thing pouring a glass of wine to pouring a three measure vodka but this is why it important to have calorific content on the labels - you wouldn't pour three shots of vodka but you also wouldn't sit down and eat six donuts - but you tend to pour yourself a large measure of wine not a small glass.'
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