26.06.2023 - Thousands of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 have ended up in the emergency room due to excessive drinking in the past year, reveals a new study. Introducing a minimum drinking age of 18 could help change this, believes the Danish Cancer Society.
Danish youth consume too much alcohol and start drinking too early, which can have serious consequences. This is the stance of the Danish Cancer Society, supported by new data from the National Institute of Public Health.
According to the data, 4% of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 report that they have visited the emergency room due to alcohol in the past year. According to calculations by the Danish Cancer Society, this equates to approximately 30,000 annual emergency room visits. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as 21% of the 15-24 year-olds in the study indicate that they have been injured due to alcohol within the past year.
"We already knew that too many young people have blackouts and get hurt as a result of alcohol consumption, but I am shocked at how many have to visit the emergency room because of alcohol each year," says Mette Lolk Hanak, the Prevention Chief at the Danish Cancer Society.
Need for Political Action Beyond immediate negative effects, alcohol increases the risk of numerous diseases in the long term, including at least seven types of cancer. This connection with cancer provides the Danish Cancer Society with a special reason to advocate for a healthier drinking culture.
Mette Lolk Hanak suggests that primarily, there is a need for an 18-year age limit on alcohol purchases, as this is an effective measure to reduce alcohol consumption.
"It is clear that this should be part of upcoming political discussions on prevention. We owe it to our children and young people, who at best end up ruining a fun evening because they get hurt, and at worst lose their mobility or their lives while intoxicated," she says.
Chief Doctor: Not Surprising The numbers also concern Chief Doctor Marianne Sjølin Frederiksen, who works in the children's and youth department at Herlev Hospital, but according to her, they are not surprising.
"Unfortunately, this is the reality we face in the department. When you are drunk, it affects your coordination and balance, you become more risk-prone, and you lose the ability to make rational decisions. Therefore, it can have severe consequences when young people drink themselves into oblivion, and we see it several times a week - both in the emergency department and in the children's and youth department," says Marianne Sjølin Frederiksen.
In the most tragic cases, it results in death. Every month, a young person dies due to alcohol. This is shown in a previous study by the National Institute of Public Health, which reviewed death certificates from 15-25-year-olds over a ten-year period.
About the Numbers: The National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, has conducted special analyses for the Danish Cancer Society, based on data for Paragraph Alcohol. It appears that 4% of 15-24-year-olds within the past year have been in the emergency room due to alcohol. Using information from Statistics Denmark on the number of young people in the 15-24-year age group, the Danish Cancer Society has calculated that this equates to approximately 30,000 ER visits due to alcohol annually among the 15-24-year-olds.
The figure for alcohol-related deaths comes from the report "Alcohol-related deaths among 15-25-year-olds, 2010-2019" from the National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark.