Harmful Use Of Alcohol Kills Over 3M Each Year: WHO

Harmful use of alcohol killed more than three million people worldwide in 2016, or one in 20 deaths, representing over 5% of the global disease burden, according to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday.

The report, entitled Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018, outlines 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.

It finds that the average daily consumption globally is 33 grams of pure alcohol a day, roughly equivalent to two glasses of wine, each at 150 ml; a large bottle or 750 ml. of beer; or two shots of spirits, each at 40 ml.

Worldwide, 45 percent of total recorded alcohol is consumed in the form of spirits, followed by beer, taking 34 percent, and wine, 12 percent.

The total population of current drinkers is estimated to be 2.3 billion, with more than half of whom in three WHO regions: the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific. Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world, even though that has decreased by more than 10 percent since 2010.

The report predicts that in the next 10 years, global alcohol per capita consumption is set to increase, particularly in the Southeast Asia and Western Pacific Regions and the Region of the Americas.

Over all deaths attributable to alcohol, of which more than three quarters were among men, some 28 percent were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, 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.

The WHO advises that reducing the harmful use of alcohol will help achieve a number of health-related targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including those for maternal and child health, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and mental health, injuries and poisonings.

To that end, the report calls for “proven, cost-effective actions”, including “increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans or restrictions on alcohol advertising, and restricting the physical availability of alcohol.” (PNA)

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