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A study has revealed drinkers in the north are guzzling their way to an early grave compared to their rosé-sipping southern counterparts.

Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University reckon the binge culture could be slashing life expectancies north of Watford Gap by as much as two years.

Newcastle, Liverpool and Durham were fingered as Britain's binge capitals, with a brain-pickling 27 per cent of adults overdoing it by more than double the recommended daily limit. As a national average, 18.2 per cent seem to believe they have two livers. Current advice for men is not to exceed three to four units a day, and two to three for women. A standard pint contains about two units.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions are higher in the north too. Per 100,000 population, 1,100 men in the north spent a night in casualty in 2004-5, compared to 700 in the south-east.

Professor Mark Bellis said: "These profiles graphically illustrate the growing cost of cheap alcohol, a night-time economy almost exclusively packed with bars and clubs, and a failure to deliver a credible drinking message to both youths and adults."

Having spent hard times in England's post-industrial tundra, we at Vulture Central would proffer long grim winters, smog, ambient despair, a diet of dripping sandwiches, plague, and pigeon fancying as alternative motivations for northerner's relative thirst.

Or, it could be that at the average local in London, it costs £15 for a champagne flute of warm imported organic lager served by a barely-sentient frustrated Australian surfing instructor. ®

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