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A recent report by World Health Organization reveals that a shocking 5% of deaths worldwide involve alcohol use

By: Caine Meyers

Alcohol consumption is increasing worldwide and accounts for 5% of all deathsAccording to a recent report by World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol is responsible for 5% of all deaths that happen worldwide. In 2016, roughly three million deaths across the planet involved some sort of alcohol use. Alarmingly, men account for a striking majority of these deaths at 2.3 million. Twenty-nine percent of the overall occurrences of death were injury-related (e.g., car accidents, suicide), 21% were digestive disorder induced by alcohol and 19% of deaths were caused by alcohol-induced infectious disease, cancers, and mental disorders.

WHO posits that 7.2% of premature deaths are correlated to alcohol. WHO expert Dr Vladimir Poznyak warns that governments are not doing enough to curtail alcohol consumption. In fact, he asserts that “the burden of alcohol is unacceptably large.” Dr. Poznyak critiques that the implementation of effective policies is lagging behind the magnitude of the problems, adding that consumption of alcohol and associated risks are expected to rise. “Governments need to do more to meet the global targets and to reduce the burden of alcohol on societies; this is clear, and this action is either absent or not sufficient in most of the countries of the world,” Poznyak warns again.

WHO’s survey estimated that 2.3 billion consume alcohol worldwide. Again, men account for most alcohol use disorders (237 million) in the world. Women account for about 46 million. The study also found that most of the alcohol consumed in the world is in the form of spirits (45%). Beer follows at 34% and wine at 12%.

Although Dr. Poznyak warned that worldwide alcohol consumption is expected to rise, alcohol-related deaths indeed has dropped from 5.9% since the last WHO report (four years ago). Steven Bell, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge credits a change in attitude towards alcohol as the reason. He states, “In the last decade or so, there has been a steady reversal in thinking regarding the association of alcohol consumption with disease, specifically focused on challenging the preconception that moderate drinking has a net beneficial effect on health, and large efforts made to counteract the so-called binge drinking culture.” This position is supported by a recent large-scale study published in the Lancet. Despite the popular misconception, moderate consumption of alcohol is not good for health. In fact, the harms indeed outweigh the benefits. Max Griswold, the primary investigator of the study has asserted, “the safest level [of alcohol consumption], from a health perspective, is not drinking at all.”

In Nova Scotia, alcohol consumption increases as individuals approach the legal drinking age. However, this differs significantly between men and women. Men typically begin consuming alcohol at the age of 16 and women are more likely to wait until they are 19. Drinking between both genders significantly increases once individuals approach their early to mid-thirties and does not subdue. The highest percentage of drinkers are between the ages of 45 and 54, albeit, they consume smaller quantities than their younger counterparts. If you believe you or a loved one is struggling to manage alcohol consumption, please speak to one of our counselors in Nova Scotia today.

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