Harmful use of alcohol kills 3 million people

AS A RESULT of harmful use of alcohol, more than 3 million died in 2016, which represents 1 in 20 deaths.

More than three quarters of these deaths were among men. Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than 5 percent of the global disease burden, based on a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO’s global status report on alcohol and health in 2018 presents a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the disease burden attributable to alcohol worldwide. It also describes what countries are doing to reduce this burden.

Who says that far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems, and different diseases like cancer and stroke.

Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 percent were due to injuries, such as those from traffic accidents, self-harm and interpersonal violence; 21 percent due to digestive disorders; 19 percent due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders and other health conditions.

Despite some positive global trends in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high, particularly in the European Region and the Region of Americas.

Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders with the highest prevalence among men and women in the European region (14.8 percent and 3.5 percent) and the Region of Americas (11.5 percent and 5.1 percent).

Current trends and projections point to an expected increase in global alcohol per capita consumption in the next 10 years, particularly in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions and the Region of the Americas.

The average daily consumption of people who drink alcohol is 33 grams of pure alcohol a day, roughly equivalent to 2 glasses (each of 150 ml) of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two shots (each of 40 ml) of spirits.

Worldwide, more than a quarter (27 percent) of all 15 to 19-year-olds is current drinkers.

Around the world, 45 percent of total recorded alcohol is consumed in the form of spirits.

Beer is the second alcoholic beverage in terms of pure alcohol consumed (34 percent) followed by wine (12 percent).

Worldwide there have been only minor changes in preferences of alcoholic beverages since 2010.

The majority of countries have some type of restriction on beer advertising, with total bans most common for television and radio but less common for the internet and social media.

Reducing the harmful use of alcohol will help achieve a number of health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those for maternal and child health, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and mental health, injuries and poisonings.

Proven, cost-effective actions against the harmful use of alcohol include increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans or restrictions on alcohol advertising, and restricting the physical availability of alcohol. ([email protected]/PN)

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