According to a new federal report, alcohol can be tied to one in every 10 deaths among American adults per year. It’s no secret that America’s favorite legal drug has vast impacts on public health. But just how closely binge drinking and overconsumption of alcohol are linked to deaths may come as a surprise.
The researchers had tallied up all of the accidents and diseases caused by alcohol and found at least 50 alcohol-related health conditions that lead to premature death.
“Excessive drinking is associated with a lot more causes of death than what we tend to focus on. Alcohol intake plays a role in at least 54 different conditions linked to death,” said Mandy Stahre, an epidemiologist at the Washington state Department of Health who conducted the study while at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported by Philly. “Binge drinking is associated with 51 percent of all deaths due to excessive drinking.”
The 88,000 deaths annually from 2006 to 2010 included acute causes, such as violence, alcohol poisoning and car crashes, as well as the health effects of prolonged overconsumption of alcohol, such as liver disease, heart disease and breast cancer. Excessive drinking shortened the lives of the people who died by about 30 years each, for a total of about 2.5 million years of potential life lost.
Seventy-one percent of those who died were men. “Men are more likely than women to drink excessively, especially binge drinking, having five or more alcoholic drinks in one occasion,” Dafna Kanny of the CDC said. “Among drivers in fatal motor vehicle crashes, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated.” According to the study, New Mexico had the highest number of alcohol-related deaths, with approximately 51 deaths yearly per 100,000 people, while New Jersey had the lowest with around 19 deaths per 100,000 people.
Kanny offered suggestions on what can be done to decrease the number of fatalities due to excessive drinking. “Health care providers can use alcohol screening and counseling to help people who are drinking too much,” she said. “Adults can set a good example for young people by not drinking excessively and by not providing underage youth with alcohol,” she further added.
Other strategies, she added, include increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages, reducing the number of retails outlets that sell alcoholic drinks and holding alcohol retailers liable for injuries and damage following illegal service to intoxicated or underage consumers.
“It’s shocking to see the public health impact of excessive drinking on working age adults,” said Dr. Robert Brewer, one of the report’s authors and head of the CDC’s alcohol program reported by Newsday.