The dangers of alcohol have been well documented, but a new study released b peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet has found that alcohol is killing more people around the world than had initially been estimated. The factors that make alcohol so dangerous it is responsible for more deaths than all other drugs combined. This is due in part to the fact that alcohol is so easily accessible and is directly responsible for causing a number of diseases including several cancers.
The study showed that alcohol (such as beer and wine) is associated with 2.8 million deaths per year, and is seventh in the rankings of risk factors leading to premature death and disability globally making alcohol a leading risk factor for death and disease.
The findings, based on 694 studies estimating global drinking patterns, and 592 studies along with 28 million people investigating the health risks associated with alcohol between 1990 and 2016 covering 195 countries.
Drinking alcohol was associated with almost 1 in 10 deaths of people between the ages of 15 and 49 years old. The range of causes included tuberculosis, road injuries and self-harm. From 50 years onwards, cancers were a leading cause of alcohol-related deaths accounting for around 27% of deaths in women and 19% of deaths in men. These figures suggest that the actual human cost of alcohol consumption is far higher than had originally been thought and brings to the fore greater awareness around the need for increased regulation around alcohol use and that no amount of alcohol consumption should be considered healthy.
Previous studies have shown the protective effects of alcohol on some conditions, but the new evidence points to the conclusion that the combined health risks that come with any alcohol consumption increase outweigh the benefits. In the light of improved analyses, the commonly held views of the health benefits of alcohol need to be revised, particularly in the light of how alcohol is contributing to global death and disability.
The US Department of Health and Human Services released the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans and in it suggested that women have a maximum of one drink per day, and men no more than two. The American Society of Clinical Oncology, a society comprised of some of the nation’s top cancer doctors, has continued to promote the limitation of alcohol as an essential step in preventing cancer.
Nearly 88 000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes. This makes it the fourth leading preventable cause of death in America according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Globally, the misuse of alcohol is rated as the fifth leading risk factor contributing to premature death and disability across all age groups. When looking at people between the ages of 15 and 49, it is the first. In the United States alone, alcohol abuse costs around 250 billion dollars (three-quarters of which is due to binge drinking).
Although other drug statistics are troubling, it is important not to shift focus away from the problem that alcohol poses to Americans as alcohol-related deaths still far outpace deaths due to other drugs.
In the US, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death. Additionally, the effect of alcohol use is not only felt by the individual, but it is also harmful to society. Its harmful effects include injuries, car accidents, violence, and sexual assault as well as it’s long-term health implications.
According to a study released in 2010 by British scientists published in the Lancet Journal, alcohol is almost three times as harmful as other drugs such as cocaine or tobacco. These findings call for a radical reworking of public health strategy to try and combat the effect that alcohol is having on society.
Alcohol is legal in many countries including America and Britain, but it is more harmful than many other illegal drugs. In general society, it is not even considered a drug, but more people enter rehab facilities for alcohol misuse than any other drug. Only 50 percent of American adults consume alcohol, and the majority of alcohol is consumed by the top 10 percent, who drink over ten drinks per day on average.
Alcohol directly causes a variety of diseases including breast, liver, colon, esophagus, and other types of cancer. It may also have a part to play in causing skin, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Other diseases include fatty liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and alcohol hepatitis. All of these conditions can kill drinkers slowly and over many years. Heavy drinking also takes its toll on the heart, as well as how oxygen and nutrients are delivered to certain organs in the body. It has also been linked to impacting brain function and structure. Not to mention events such car accidents, DUI’s, drunken injuries, toxic relationships, and destruction of property.
A continued focus on helping turn the tide on alcohol abuse is needed to prevent the problems from escalating. Alcohol treatment centers need to be easily accessible, especially alcohol rehabs in Florida and other states where the rates of alcohol abuse are high. The best alcohol treatment centers focusing on alcohol detox and alcohol rehabilitation have effective programs in place to help people with an alcohol addiction.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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