Women who do routine jobs such as cleaners are almost six times more likely to die from alcohol abuse than women in better paid roles, according to new government research.
The report by the Office for National Statistics found cleaners, sewing machinists and bar staff face 5.7 times greater risk of fatal liver disease, mental disorders and poisoning than doctors and lawyers.
This was despite richer women downing almost twice as much alcohol, the study finds.
Meanwhile men who worked as van drivers and labourers have a three and a half times bigger threat of meeting a similar fate than than those in higher managerial and professional work.
The new report is the first analysis of the social inequalities in adult alcohol-related mortality in England and Wales in the last decade as measured by the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC).
A year ago an ONS report found professional and managerial women are downing almost twice as much alcohol as the lower paid.
They are drinking an average of 10.2 units a week – more than a bottle of wine – compared with 6.5 units for manual workers.
Statistician Myer Glickman, whose team compiled the latest findings, said: ‘They are an apparent contradiction but it could be down to a number of factors.
‘One could be there are other things affecting people’s health such as whether they are smokers or have a poorer diet which may make them more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.
‘Also patterns of drinking may be different, such as binge drinking on particular types or brands of alcohol rather than drinking similar or even greater amounts but over a longer period of time.
‘The greater difference between male and female social groups could also be down to the fact that professional women in general are particularly advantaged when it comes to good health.’
The most alcohol related deaths occurred in males aged between 50 and 54 with routine jobs (52.2 per 100,000). For women it was for those in routine work and age 45 to 49 (42 per 100,000).
For the less advantaged groups, alcohol-related mortality peaked in middle age and then declined, whereas for managers and professionals, the risk of mortality increased steadily the older they got.
The report said this means alcohol-related deaths in the less advantaged groups tend to be younger as well as being more common.
The study also found the number of alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales doubled between 1991 and 2008, rising from 3,415 (6.4 per 100,000 population) in 1991 to 7,344 (12.4 per 100,000) in 2008. But the most recent data in 2009 indicated a drop in alcohol related deaths of 3.3 per cent, to 7,099.
Regionally, the highest mortality rate for men in all occupied classes combined was found in the North West of England (26.9 per 100,000) followed by the North East (23.7), the West Midlands (23.6) and London (21.3).
These areas all had significantly higher mortality rates for all occupied classes combined than England and Wales as a whole, where the figure was 19 per 100,000.
The lowest mortality rate was in the East of England (12.4 per 100,000), half of that seen in the North West. The second lowest was the South West (15.2) followed by the East Midlands and the South East, both 15.5 per 100,000. Similar regional patterns were observed for women, but with lower overall death rates.
Previous survey results have suggested that less advantaged social groups drink less in total than the more advantaged groups.
Therefore the explanation for these inequalities is not a simple one, and may be associated with differences in the detailed patterns of drinking among different groups or with the influence of underlying factors other than alcohol consumption, said the report.
Alcohol-related deaths include only these causes defined as being most directly due to alcohol consumption, such as alcoholic liver disease (accounting for approximately two-thirds of all alcohol-related deaths), fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver, (18 per cent), mental disorders (9 per cent) and accidental alcohol poisoning (3 per cent).
It does not include other diseases where alcohol has been shown to contribute to the risk of death, such as cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and liver. It also excludes deaths from accidents and violence where alcohol may have played a part.
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