LivingHow many deaths per year does alcohol use cause?

How many deaths per year does alcohol use cause?

There are many campaigns that alert us to the consumption of hard drugs, and others such as tobacco are increasingly viewed in the worst light. However, when we talk about alcohol, things change, and the general perception of society is that, if it is not abused, it is not bad. You already know: “a glass of wine a day at meals …”. Well no. Not a glass or a half, this is the message launched by the authors of an extensive scientific review published in 2018 in The Lancet magazine.

According to the researchers, one in three people in the world consumes alcohol. In addition, throughout the year 2.2% of women and 6.8% of men die from health problems associated with it, making a total of 2.8 million deaths. Another conclusion was that, at least in 2016, alcohol consumption was the seventh leading cause of risk for premature death worldwide, and the first in people between 15 and 49 years of age.

Data from around the world and more robust statistics

This is one of the largest and most robust studies to date, using data from studies involving a total of 28 million people in 195 countries around the world conducted between 1990 and 2016. In addition, data was combined of alcohol sales with consumption and withdrawal, personal surveys and tourism figures to estimate visitors who drink alcohol in an area. The illegal sale of alcohol and home-made liquors were even taken into account.

The applied statistical analysis used specific methods to reduce confounding factors and to more accurately estimate the risks related to the consumption of between 0 and 15 alcoholic beverages per day.

The work provides a multitude of very interesting data on the average consumption of alcohol by country and by gender ( Denmark is positioned as the country with the highest number of habitual drinkers , for example) and on the health problems derived from it and that are the cause deaths such as tuberculosis or traffic accidents for the 15-49 age group. In those over 50, the appearance of cancer associated with habitual alcohol consumption was the main cause of death, both in men (27.1% of deaths) and in women (18.9%).

And alcohol doesn’t protect the heart?

Although previous studies had already disproved the supposed beneficial effect on cardiovascular health that moderate alcohol consumption (that daily glass of wine) has, this new work confirms it. Only a very mild protective effect against ischemic heart disease was found, as well as possible protective effects against diabetes and stroke, but these were not statistically significant. In addition, the risks associated with alcohol consumption are so high that they do not compensate for these possible and minimal protective effects.

“Our results warn that alcohol consumption is a serious challenge for public health policies around the world,” says Emmanuela Gakidou, from the University of Washington. ” More control policies are needed, more campaigns, include special taxes on alcoholic beverages and control their sale and advertising .”

Reference: GBD 2016 Alcohol Collaborators. 2018. “1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016”. The Lancet DOI: https: // (18) 31310-2

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