Doctors Urged to Lead Battle Against Alcohol Abuse

Excessive drinking is the third leading factor in preventable and premature disease, experts say

THURSDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Experts around the world have issued a call to doctors to lead the battle against alcohol abuse.

A group of international medical bodies said physicians can help their patients avoid the harmful effects of excess alcohol, and it also urged governments to take action and address the problem, which has become the third leading risk factor in preventable and premature disease, affecting 76 million people globally.

The statement, which comes ahead of next week's United Nations Summit on Non-communicable Diseases in New York City, said that to date there has been a noticeable lack of any global action to correct the problem of alcohol abuse.

"Evidence-based cost-effective interventions reduce harm from alcohol, but advocacy for an alcohol policy is not politically attractive. The conflict between government-driven health policy and commercial or social governmental influences impedes the progress of any national or international policy. There is, therefore, an urgent need to put pressure on governments to recognize, adopt and scale up appropriate health policies," said the medical bodies in their statement published online Sept. 14 in The Lancet.

The statement pointed out that doctors are uniquely positioned to tackle the problem of alcohol abuse in their daily practice. "The voice of doctors is valued and trusted within societies, and therefore we call on all doctors to show effective leadership by holding ministries of health accountable for their lack of action in the face of such robust evidence," Sir Ian Gilmore, of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and colleagues wrote, according to a journal news release.

The statement concluded that implementing effective strategies to combat alcohol abuse would improve the health of populations worldwide.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about alcohol abuse.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas SOURCE: Royal College of Physicians of London, news release, Sept. 14, 2011

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