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Alcohol Third Leading Cause of Disease, Injury

By March 4, 2014

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Alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of disease and injury worldwide, behind only high blood pressure and smoking tobacco. Alcohol has become the third most harmful cause of disease in spite of the fact that less than half of the population of the Earth consumes alcohol.

Alcohol's percentage of the global health burden is large and still growing, researchers say.

"Alcohol consumption has been found to cause more than 200 different diseases and injuries," said Kevin Shield, the lead author of the study. "These include not only well-known outcomes of drinking such as liver cirrhosis or traffic accidents, but also several types of cancer, such as female breast cancer."

Preventable Disease and Injury

Of the 67 health risk factors studied, alcohol was responsible for 5.5% of all worldwide disease and injury health burdens, the study revealed.

"Improving alcohol control policies presents one of the greatest opportunities to prevent much of the health burden caused by alcohol consumption," Shield said in a news release "To improve these policies, information on how much alcohol people are consuming, and how people are consuming alcohol is necessary, and that is exactly the information this article presents."

The study, published in the journal Addiction, was conducted at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Canada and reported the patterns of alcohol consumption by country. The results showed large differences between drinking by geographical regions.

World's Heaviest Drinkers

According to the study:

  • The world's heaviest drinkers are in Europe and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Drinkers in Eastern Europe and southern Africa consume large quantities, drink to the get drunk, and go on prolonged binges.

  • The least amount of alcohol is consumed in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.

  • North Americans consume 50% more alcohol than the worldwide average.

The study also revealed that illegal booze still thrives. Of all the alcohol consumed worldwide in 2010, almost 30% of it was what the researchers called "unreported," meaning it was home brewed or illegally produced.

Source: Shields, KD, et al. "Global alcohol exposure estimates by country, territory and region for 2005--a contribution to the Comparative Risk Assessment for the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study." Addiction. 4 March 2013.

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Photo: BigStockPhoto.com
March 12, 2013 at 7:17 pm
(1) Todd D. says:

All this information on how destructive alcohol is and yet the government does little or nothing. They choose to focus on sugary soft drinks and regulating how many ounces to allow in big gulps. Its cool to buy pitchers of margaritas and beer and sell 40 oz. bottles of malt liquor at conveinence stores. Money, Money, Money

March 16, 2013 at 8:47 pm
(2) soeprapto says:

More harm than good.

March 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm
(3) norman chychota MD says:

Nobody dies from alcoholism . I have never seen this diagnosis on a death certificate.

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