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British forces who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to have serious alcohol problems than other troops, according to a major new study.

The research, funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), showed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan did not raise the risk of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but troops sent there were more than a fifth (22 per cent) more likely to have alcohol problems which risked their health.

Some 9,990 troops answered a questionnaire about their experiences of deployment and their health.

From their responses, researchers believed a fifth (20 per cent) showed symptoms of common mental health problems and 376 (four per cent) showed probable PTSD.

Regular soldiers who had spent time in either Iraq or Afghanistan were 22 per cent more likely to misuse alcohol than full-time troops who had not been deployed.

The study, led by King’s College London, found the prevalence of mental health disorders including anxiety and depression among UK troops remained stable between 2003 and 2009 with rates of PTSD remaining between 3-4 per cent.

Operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 and hostilities in Iraq started in 2003. Troops deployed to both countries are banned from drinking alcohol during their tour.

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