Alcohol responsible for one in 20 deaths worldwide: WHO

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GENEVA, Sept 21, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Alcohol kills three million people
worldwide each year — more than AIDS, violence and road accidents combined,
the World Health Organization said Friday, adding that men are particularly
at risk.

The UN health agency’s latest report on alcohol and health pointed out that
alcohol causes more than one in 20 deaths globally each year, including drink
driving, alcohol-induced violence and abuse and a multitude of diseases and
disorders.

Men account for more than three quarters of alcohol-related deaths, the
nearly 500-page report found.

“Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the
consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental
health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke,” WHO chief Tedros
Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the
development of healthy societies,” he added.

Drinking is linked to more than 200 health conditions, including liver
cirrhosis and some cancers.

Alcohol abuse also makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases
such as tuberculosis, HIV and pneumonia, the report found.

The some three million alcohol-related deaths registered globally in 2016 –
– the latest available statistics — account for 5.3 percent of all deaths
that year.

In comparison, HIV/AIDS was responsible for 1.8 percent of global deaths
that year, road injuries for 2.5 percent and violence for 0.8 percent, the
study showed.

The latest numbers are lower than those in WHO’s last report on global
alcohol consumption, published in 2014.

There are “some positive global trends”, the agency said, pointing to
shrinking prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and of alcohol-related deaths
since 2010.

But it warned that “the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by
the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high,” especially in Europe and
the Americas.

Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from
alcohol use disorders, WHO said.

Alcohol abuse affects nearly 15 percent of men and 3.5 percent of women in
Europe, and 11.5 percent of men and 5.1 percent of women in the Americas, it
pointed out.

Alcohol consumption overall is unevenly distributed around the globe, with
well over half of the world’s population over the age of 15 abstaining
completely.

– A beer per day –

On average, the 2.3 billion people currently considered drinkers — meaning
they have drunk alcohol at least once in the past year — consume 33 grammes
of pure alcohol per day.

That is roughly equivalent to two glasses of wine, a large bottle of beer
or two shots of spirits.

Europe clearly has the highest per capita consumption, which despite a more
than 10-percent drop since 2010 still registered a per capita consumption of
10 litres of pure alcohol or more per year.

WHO warned that alcohol consumption is also on the rise in all regions
besides Europe, especially in Asia, with China and India registering
significant hikes.

The UN health agency urged countries to do more to counter harmful drinking
practices and to reach a goal of cutting global consumption by 10 percent
between 2010 and 2025.

“We would like to see Member States implement creative solutions that will
save lives, such as taxing alcohol and restricting advertising,” Tedros said.

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