UEG press release

Alcohol consumption out of control, medical experts warn

December 09, 2015

Alcohol consumption out of control, medical experts warn

(Vienna, 9 December, 2015) With alcohol consumption expected to rise by up to 40% throughout the festive season, experts warn that the affects of drinking to excess are now spiralling out of control, especially amongst the young, and urgent action is required to change our approach to alcohol. 

“Due to the size of the problem and its universal impact, excessive alcohol consumption requires a focused approach and commitment for action at European and national levels” says United European Gastroenterology (UEG) spokesperson, Professor Matthias Löhr. “We need to change the public’s attitude towards drinking and as healthcare professionals we need to educate our patients about the dangers of drinking too much alcohol and intervene early when we suspect an individual is drinking too much. If we don’t address this problem now then we are in real danger of facing an alcohol related healthcare crisis throughout most of Europe”.

Alcohol is the world’s number one risk factor for ill-health and premature death among the 25-59 year age group. It is also a risk factor in over 60 types of diseases and contributes to 5.9% of all deaths worldwide and nearly 30% of deaths from gastro-intestinal diseases.

Europe is by far the biggest drinking region in the world, according to the UEG Survey of Digestive Health Across Europe, with hospital admissions for alcoholic liver disease (a key precursor to liver cancer) increasing by more than 120% since 1995 in England, Scotland, Wales and Finland. These countries also have the highest incidence of alcohol related liver disease in east and north eastern European countries.

Professor Löhr and members of United European Gastroenterology propose the following festive tips on how to drink safely and reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as liver disease and cancer: 

  • Enjoy the festive season but don’t be tempted to binge drink.  Researchers define binge drinking as consuming eight or more units in a single session for men and six or more for women
  • Consider avoiding alcohol for a sustained period of time (e.g. a month) following the festive season
  • Men: Drink no more than 3-4 alcoholic drinks on any day (equivalent to 852ml of beer/250ml of wine) and a maximum of 21 drinks in any week
  • Women: Drink no more than 2-3 alcoholic drinks on any day (equivalent to 568ml beer/175ml of wine) and a maximum of 14 drinks in any week
  • Have at least 2 alcohol-free days a week to allow the liver time to repair itself
  • Be symptom smart and seek medical advice if you experience pain in the lower right hand side of your ribs, general nausea and lack of energy


Notes to Editors

About UEG

UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Find out more by visiting www.ueg.eu

To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:

· UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world.

· UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion

· Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations

· UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology

· EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe

About Professor Matthias Löhr

Matthias Löhr is the Professor of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Karolinska Institutet and a senior physician in the Department of Digestive Diseases at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden and a member of UEG’s Public Affairs Committee. He has conducted a number of studies on the relationship between alcohol and gastrointestinal diseases.

To interview Professor Löhr, or for further information, please contact Luke Paskins at UEG on +44 (0)1444 811099 or media@ueg.eu


  1. Drug and alcohol treatment charity – Addaction (2012)
  2. World Health Organisation Europe (2012). Alcohol in the European Union: Consumption, harm and policy approaches
  3. WHO (2010) Status Report on NCD -http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report2010/en/
  4. WHO global status report on alcohol and health 2014.
  5. WHO (2014) Global status report on alcohol and health 2014 -http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/en/
  6. Roberts SE, Samuel DG, Williams JG, et al. Survey of Digestive Health across Europe. Part one: The burden of gastrointestinal diseases and the organisation and delivery of gastroenterology services across Europe. Report for United European Gastroenterology. October 2014. 

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