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Unhealthy Alcohol Intake a Global Burden

More than 200 diseases and injuries has been attributed to alcohol consumption, according to study lead author Kevin Shield, which includes several types of cancer such as female breast cancer on top of those known effects of drinking such as liver cirrhosis and traffic accidents.  The study, published in a recent issue of the journal Addiction, shows that alcohol was responsible for more than 5% of the global burden of disease and injury, third after hypertension and tobacco smoking. The findings show huge differences by geographical region, number of alcohol consumers, and the amount of alcohol intake and general patterns of drinking.

The world’s heaviest drinkers are from Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, where drinkers consume large quantities to the point of intoxication.  They spend long hours in drinking sprees and take alcohol mainly outside of meals. North Americans, especially Canadians consume more than half above the global average and spend more time in drinking sprees than most EU countries. Those who drink the least alcohol are the people in North Africa, South Asia and Middle East.

The study summarized the results not found in all of the country’s official records including territories and regions.  The researchers discovered that about 30% of alcohol consumption in 2005 was unrecorded (meaning the alcohol was manufactured illegally, not intended for consumption and are brewed at home). The unrecorded amount of alcohol consumption is a particular problem, as the consumption is not affected by policies that could have helped in moderating alcohol consumption such as taxation.

Dr. Shield believes that the information they present may be important to improve existing policies on alcohol consumption.



Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Unhealthy drinking widespread around the world. ScienceDaily.

Posted in: Alcohol, Alcohol Abuse, News Briefs

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