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LIVER CIRRHOSIS DEATH RATES RISE STEEPLY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

  1. Top of page
  2. LIVER CIRRHOSIS DEATH RATES RISE STEEPLY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
  3. References
  4. BRITISH SYSTEM FOR CLASSIFICATION OF DRUGS TO BE REVIEWED
  5. MAJOR NEW INFORMATION RESOURCE ON CANNABIS, ECSTASY AND COCAINE
  6. CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

A study published in The Lancet in January reveals that the increase in the death rate from liver cirrhosis in Britain is now the steepest in Western Europe. This increase is in direct contrast to the trend being observed in the rest of Western Europe where overall rates have been falling since the mid 1970s. In the 1950s, England and Wales had the lowest cirrhosis mortality rates in Western Europe. Now England and Wales and Scotland have the second and third highest rates respectively.

The increase has been particularly marked during the last ten years. Over the decade 1987–1991 to 1997–2001 rates among men in Scotland more than doubled (104%), and in England and Wales they rose by over two thirds (69%). Scottish cirrhosis mortality rates are now some of the highest in Western Europe (45.2 per 100 000 men and 19.9 per 100 000 women in 2002).

In contrast, mortality rates for both men and woman in other European countries have dropped by between 25 and 30%, after a steep rise between 1955 and the early 1970s. There has been a steady long-term decline in mortality rates in France, accompanied by a more recent substantial reduction in Italy, Spain and Portugal, although rates have increased in Finland, the Netherlands, and Ireland, and among Danish men and, more recently Danish women.

The authors of the study, David Leon and Jim McCambridge, point to the rise in alcohol consumption as the most obvious cause of the increase in death rates from liver cirrhosis. Per capita consumption has more than doubled in the UK over the last forty years. While beer consumption has been relatively stable, increased consumption of wine and spirits in particular have contributed in a grossly disproportionate way to this trend.

Robin Room, in the same issue, comments bleakly on the implications of alcohol licensing policies:

‘. . . the UK Government has turned a determined blind eye to the problem and has failed to make the reduction of the population's alcohol intake a policy goal. Through the new alcohol licensing law and the official guidance on it, the national government has also done its best to tie the hands of local government on this issue . . . despite promises to the contrary, there is still no provision by the Government for studies to evaluate the effects of the new licensing law.’

References

  1. Top of page
  2. LIVER CIRRHOSIS DEATH RATES RISE STEEPLY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
  3. References
  4. BRITISH SYSTEM FOR CLASSIFICATION OF DRUGS TO BE REVIEWED
  5. MAJOR NEW INFORMATION RESOURCE ON CANNABIS, ECSTASY AND COCAINE
  6. CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

BRITISH SYSTEM FOR CLASSIFICATION OF DRUGS TO BE REVIEWED

  1. Top of page
  2. LIVER CIRRHOSIS DEATH RATES RISE STEEPLY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
  3. References
  4. BRITISH SYSTEM FOR CLASSIFICATION OF DRUGS TO BE REVIEWED
  5. MAJOR NEW INFORMATION RESOURCE ON CANNABIS, ECSTASY AND COCAINE
  6. CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

It is commonplace when opening a newspaper in London to find column acres, not inches, devoted to all the addictive substances which people use and enjoy. Alongside supermodels on cocaine, we have continuing outrage about binge drinking—seemingly a peculiarly British behaviour—and lively debate on the issue of tobacco smoking in bars. At the time of writing, the risks of cannabis use, and especially its link with mental illness, are again under the spotlight. It is fascinating to watch the politicians juggle the claims of medical evidence and the clamour of popular commentators and the public over sending ‘mixed messages’ to the young about cannabis use. The reclassification of the drug from B to C has been revisited by the British Home Secretary, Charles Clarke (see my report in this column in May 2005), but the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs failed to recommend a reversal back up to Class B. This left Clarke with no option but to keep the status quo (the rumour being that certain experts on the Council would have resigned had he not done so) and to order a public information campaign to stress that cannabis is ‘anything but harmless.’ In a separate move he strengthened the controls on the so-called ‘date-rape’ drugs, Rohypnol and GHB. In addition—perhaps to convey that he continues to take the matter seriously—he announced a wholesale review of the way drugs are classified, to be detailed in a consultation paper. This could lead to further changes, with Ecstasy, Rohypnol and GHB being obvious candidates for re-grading if the principle of relative harms is followed.

MAJOR NEW INFORMATION RESOURCE ON CANNABIS, ECSTASY AND COCAINE

  1. Top of page
  2. LIVER CIRRHOSIS DEATH RATES RISE STEEPLY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
  3. References
  4. BRITISH SYSTEM FOR CLASSIFICATION OF DRUGS TO BE REVIEWED
  5. MAJOR NEW INFORMATION RESOURCE ON CANNABIS, ECSTASY AND COCAINE
  6. CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

Christine Goodair, head of information services at DrugScope, writes:

With the volume of literature and websites in the addictions field growing, there is an attendant demand for evidence based information. Researchers and others are seeking information on best practice, research evidence and interventions that will inform their own work. A new website database has been designed to make access to complex research information from across the globe freely accessible to a wider audience. EELDA, the Evidence-Based Electronic Library on Drug Addiction, offers in depth information particularly on the health aspects of substance use, to complement the major substance use bibliographic databases. EELDA, a resource for professionals in the addiction and healthcare sectors, is scheduled to be launched in Spring this year. The project is funded by the European Commission and led by the Trimbos Institute (Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction) with DrugScope (UK) and the Instituto da Droga e da Toxicodependência (Portugal) as partners.

The aim of the database is to provide evidence based information on cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy covering a general introduction to each drug followed by information on effects of the drug on the body, risks, prevention and treatment. Information for the database was collated and appraised by librarians and addiction professionals using evidence based medicine protocols. These protocols are designed to ensure that the development of content is systematic, structured, transparent and includes a number of safeguards to achieve a high level of quality regarding the final content. This process involved the project team in developing a series of research questions for each drug on the aspects to be covered. The librarians then converted these questions into literature searches and then searches were done for peer-reviewed articles in the English language using specialist medical and addiction databases. The scientific authors examined the results of the literature searches assessing the quality and relevance of the material found according to screening protocols for different study types, such as random control trials, clinical trial, cohort studies and systematic reviews with meta-analyses. The authors having selected their articles summarised the evidence for the database. These texts are then reviewed by independent experts in the drugs field and examined for relevance, validity and applicability. Finally, once the experts have critically reviewed the authored texts and reached agreement, they are published on the website. Work is also being done on translating the website into Dutch and Portuguese.

Christine Goodair can be contacted by email: christineg@drugscope.org.uk

CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

  1. Top of page
  2. LIVER CIRRHOSIS DEATH RATES RISE STEEPLY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
  3. References
  4. BRITISH SYSTEM FOR CLASSIFICATION OF DRUGS TO BE REVIEWED
  5. MAJOR NEW INFORMATION RESOURCE ON CANNABIS, ECSTASY AND COCAINE
  6. CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

Management of Drug Users in Primary Care. 11th National Conference of the UK Royal College of General Practitioners Sex, Drugs and HIV task group. Manchester International Convention Centre. 27–28 April 2006. Contact: Healthcare Events at tel. +44 (0)20 8541 1399; fax +44 (0)20 8547 2300; email: clare@healthcare-events.co.uk; website: http://www.healthcare-events.co.uk

17th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm. 30 April-4 May 2006, Vancouver, Canada. Contact: Harm Reduction 2006, c/o Advance Group, 1444 Alberni Street, Suite 101, Vancouver, BC Canada V6G 2Z4. Tel. +1 604 688 9655 ext 2; fax +1 604 685 3521; email: registration@harmreduction2006.ca

ASAM 37th Annual Meeting and Medical-Scientific Conference. Organised by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. 4–7 May 2006, San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina, San Diego, California. Contact: ASAM Office, tel. +1 301 656 3920, website: http://www.asam.org

Cannabis and Cannabinoids: use and abuse. 5th CARES (Centre for Addiction Research and Education Scotland) National Conference. 19 May 2006, West Park Conference Centre, Dundee, Scotland. More information at http://www.dundee.ac.uk/psychiatry/cares/5thCARESConference.htm

32nd Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium, Kettil Bruun Society. 29 May–2 June 2006, Maastricht, the Netherlands. Contact: Carmen Hermans at tel. +31 43 388 5979, fax +31 43 388 5981, email: carmen.hermans@fd.unimaas.nl, website: http://www.unimaas.nl/kbs2006

CPDD 68th Annual Scientific Meeting. Organised by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. 17–22 June 2006. The Fairmount Princess Hotel, Scottsdale, Arizona. Contact: Sailair/CPDD 2006, 4515 Harding Pike, Ste. 320, Nashville, TN 37205-2118, USA; fax +1 615-297-6655; registration website: https://www.sailairtravel.com/cpdd/cpdd.php

RSA 29th Annual Scientific Meeting. Organised by the Research Society on Alcoholism. 24–28 June 2006. Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland. Contact: Debby at DebbyRSA@sbcglobal.net

2nd UK National Smoking Cessation Conference. 26–27 June 2006 at The Sage, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Programme directors Andy McEwen and Hayden McRobbie. Contact: www.uknscc.org

Research, Policy and Practice. 19th Annual Australian Winter School on Alcohol and other Drugs. Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Queensland (ADFQ). Carlton Crest Hotel, Brisbane, Australia, 3–5 July 2006. Contact: tel. +61 (0)7 3343 4820; http://www.winterschool.info

Bridging the Gap: Transforming Knowledge into Action. UICC World Cancer Congress. 8–12 July 2006, Washington DC. Tel. +415 228 3172; fax +514 228 3174; email: ICTCC@laser-registration.com; website: http://www.worldcancercongress.org

Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction. Amsterdam, 10–27 July 2006. Three-week intensive course for first line care providers, advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Sponsored by International School for Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam. Contact: Helen Levine, ISHSS, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Prins Hendrikkade 189-B, 1011 TD Amsterdam, the Netherlands, tel. +31 20 525 3776; fax +31 20 525 3778, email: SummerInstitute-ishss@uva.nl, website: http://www.ishss.uva.nl/addiction

Building Capacity for a Tobacco-Free World. 13th World Conference on Tobacco Or Health. 12–15 July 2006, Washington DC, hosted by the American Cancer Society. Contact: Conference Secretariat email: secretariat2006@cancer.org; website: http://www.13thwctoh.org

From Science to Treatment. ISBRA 2006 World Congress on Alcohol Research. 10–13 September 2006. The Wentworth, Sydney, Australia. Contact Secretariat at isbra2006@icms.com.au; or ICMS Pty Limited, 3rd floor, 379 Kent Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia; tel. +61 2 9290 3366; fax +61 2 9290 2444. Conference homepage: http://www.isbra2006.com

International Gambling Conference. Organised by Auckland University of Technology and the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand. 13–15 September 2006, Auckland, New Zealand. Contact: Rodney Greaves, Problem Gambling Foundation, tel. +64 (0)9 368 1520, email: conference@pgfnz.co.nz, website: http://www.pgfnz.co.nz/2006conference/index.htm

Population Level Studies on Alcohol Consumption and Harm: implications of recent and emerging research for alcohol policy. A Kettil Bruun Society thematic symposium hosted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). 1–5 October 2006, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Contact: Norman Giesbrecht, CAMH, 33 Russell Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S1 Canada, fax +1 416 595-6899, email: Norman_Giesbrecht@camh.net

AMERSA 30th Annual Conference. Organised by the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse. Washington DC, 2–4 November 2006. Contact: Isabel Vieira, AMERSA National Office, 125 Whipple Street, Providence, RI 02908 USA. Tel. +1 401 349 0000; E-mail: Isabel@amersa.org; website: http://www.amersa.org

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