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Alcohol Is Leading Risk Factor for Global Disease Burden

TUESDAY, Aug. 28, 2018 — Globally, alcohol use is a leading risk factor for disease burden, according to research published online Aug. 23 in The Lancet.

Max G. Griswold, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of drinking and alcohol-attributed deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) using 694 data sources of individual and population-level alcohol consumption and 592 prospective and retrospective studies on the risk of alcohol use.

The researchers found that alcohol use was the seventh leading risk factor for deaths and DALYs globally in 2016, accounting for 2.2 and 6.8 percent of age-standardized female and male deaths, respectively. Alcohol use was the leading risk factor globally in 2016 among the population aged 15 to 49 years, with 3.8 and 12.2 percent of female and male deaths, respectively, attributable to alcohol use; in this age group, female and male attributable DALYs were 2.3 and 8.9 percent, respectively, and the three leading causes of attributable deaths were tuberculosis, road injuries, and self-harm (1.4, 1.2, and 1.1 percent, respectively). Cancers accounted for a larger proportion of total alcohol-attributable deaths in 2016 for the population aged 50 years and older, constituting 27.1 and 18.9 percent of total alcohol-attributable female and male deaths, respectively.

“We found that the risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption, and the level of consumption that minimizes health loss is zero,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text

Posted: August 2018

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