HEALTH Alcohol linked with 88,000 premature deaths
By Martta KellyPublished June 27, 2014
Excessive alcohol consumption remains a
leading cause of premature death in the United States,
responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults,
according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC).
Researchers used the CDC's Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI)
online application to estimate total number of deaths that were
attributable to alcohol among U.S. adults ages 20 to 64, from
2006 through 2010. They also examined years of potential life
lost across the U.S. by gender and age.
Excessive alcohol use led to nearly 88,000
deaths per year over the study period, and
shortened the lives of those who died by
about 30 years on average, said study researcher Dafna
Kanny of the CDC. "In total, there were 2.5 million years of
potential life lost each year due to excessive alcohol use," she
The number of alcohol-related deaths have increased by around
12,000 since 2004, the year a previous CDC study was conducted,
Kanny said. [7 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health]
The study appears today (June 26) in the CDC's journal
Preventing Chronic Disease.
Causes of death
Alcohol is linked with deaths both from
acute causes, such as car accidents and falls, and deaths from
chronic diseases.Deaths due to
alcohol-related car accidents reached nearly 13,000 per year
during the study period, according to the report.
Among the chronic diseases that alcohol can cause, the most
common cause of death was alcoholic liver disease (14,000 deaths
yearly), followed by liver cirrhosis (7,800 deaths yearly) and
alcohol dependence syndrome (3,700 deaths yearly), according to
Most of the deaths that were related to excessive alcohol
consumption (71 percent) involved males, Kanny said. "Men are
more likely than women to drink excessively, especially binge
drinking, having five or more alcoholic drinks in one occasion,"
she 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.
What can be done
The results of this study are consistent with similar studies
conducted on a global level, and reflect
the substantial effect that excessive drinking has on life span
and loss of productivity, Kanny said.
Premature deaths due to alcohol
consumption, along with the reduced earnings by heavy drinkers,
were responsible for 72 percent of the estimated $223.5 billion
in economic costs due to excessive alcohol consumption in the
U.S. in 2006, she said.
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."
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.
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Science explained it:
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