This study compared national statistics for consumption of alcohol and dietary intake with the numbers of cases of chronic pancreatitis as recorded in a 10% sample of all hospital discharges (Hospital In-Patient Enquiry) and with the annual number of deaths. Hospital discharges for chronic pancreatitis became more common throughout the study period (7.0-11.1 discharges per million per year in 1960-4; 26.8-32.4 discharges per million per year in 1980-4). The most rapid increase was from 1975-82. The rate increased fourfold in men, but only twofold in women, and the increase began earlier in men (1976) than in women (1980). Annual deaths from chronic pancreatitis also rose progressively (46-70 in 1960-4; 64-91 in 1985-8). The annual per capita consumption of alcohol rose from 4.0-4.9 litres in 1960-4 to a peak of 7.7 litres in 1979; it has been relatively stable (6.9-7.6 litres) in 1980-8. Total dietary energy intake assessed in the National Food Survey fell progressively, with a correspondingly greater fall in carbohydrate intake, so that the energy contributions of fat and protein rose slightly, although total fat and protein consumption fell from 1965-9 to 1980-4. These changes were small in relation to total dietary intake and seemed to be unrelated to the changes in the numbers of chronic pancreatitis discharges. There was a close correlation (r = 0.96) between per capita alcohol consumption and the numbers of discharges with chronic pancreatitis six years later. This suggests that epidemiological trends in chronic pancreatitis in the United Kingdom might be predictable from population based statistics of alcohol consumption.
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