Excessive drinking killed over 3 million people in 2016

22 Septembre, 2018, 03:54 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Representational Image. Reuters

Alcohol kills three million people worldwide each year - more than AIDS, violence and road accidents combined, the World Health Organization said on Friday, adding that men are particularly at risk.

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

More than three-quarters of these deaths were among men, the United Nations health agency said.

"Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke", said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

Some three million alcohol-related deaths registered globally in 2016 - the latest available statistics - account for 5.3 per cent of all deaths that year.

In comparison, HIV/AIDS was responsible for 1.8 per cent of global deaths in 2016, road injuries accounted for 2.5 per cent and violence for 0.8 per cent, it said.

"Reducing harmful alcohol consumption globally will serve [to] improve the health and wellbeing of humanity as a whole", said epidemiologist Steven Bell from the University of Cambridge, who was not involved with the report.

There are "some positive global trends", the agency said, pointing to shrinking prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and of alcohol-related deaths since 2010.

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In a new report, the World Health Organization said that about 237 million men and 46 million women faced alcohol problems, with the highest prevalence in Europe and the Americas. The Americas follow European regions with 11.5% of men and 5.1% of women suffering from overuse of alcohol and subsequent conditions that often follow alcohol abuse.

On average, the 2.3 billion people now considered drinkers - meaning they have drunk alcohol at least once in the past year - consume 33 grammes of pure alcohol per day.

Worldwide, 45% of alcohol is consumed as spirits, followed by beer (34%) then wine (12%).

Europe has the highest per person alcohol consumption in the world, even though it has dropped by around 10 per cent since 2010.

He said the data showed, for example, that alcohol consumption tends to drop in countries facing economic crisis.

"The policy responses which are now in place in countries are definitely not sufficient to reverse the trends, which we observe in several parts of the world, or to improve significantly this situation", Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, coordinator of WHO's management of substance abuse unit, told reporters. "Proven, cost-effective actions include increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans or restrictions on alcohol advertising, and restricting the physical availability of alcohol".

It urged countries to do more to counter harmful drinking and to reach a goal of cutting global consumption by 10 per cent between 2010 and 2025.

The U.N. health agency also warned that current policy responses are not sufficient to reverse trends predicting an increase in consumption over the next 10 years. 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.

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