The study by the Glasgow Centre for Population looked at trends in Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. "Although men have a higher level of alcohol-related deaths than women, because the rate of increase in females is greater than in men what you are seeing is a narrowing in the gap in this the youngest cohort," Deborah Shipton, author of  the report, said.

Since the 1970s, women have come to enjoy better career opportunities and higher earnings. The suggestion was that with improvements in equality, there has also been a cultural change, with more women drinking more regularly in social situations, and in some cases more heavily.

Shipton said that increased affordability and availability of alcohol, combined with effective marketing by the drinks industry, especially campaigns targeting women, could also explain why female death rates have risen.

"What we need to tackle this, apart from raising greater health awareness about the dangers of excessive drinking, is legislation, be that through tighter government controls over licencing, broader debate about the health issues facing not just women but also men... and of course minimum pricing of alcohol," she said.

(Agencies)