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Alcohol Abuse Kills 2.5 Million People Per Year, According to WHO

On February 11, 2011, the World Health Organization stated that alcohol abuse kills 2.5 million people each year (about 4 percent of all deaths worldwide). These disturbing statistics should be a wake-up call for governments, who should do more to prevent alcohol-related deaths. This is the WHO’s first report on the subject in seven years.

The report said that the main causes of alcohol-related deaths are cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, strokes, and injuries incurred while drunk. The report also stated that alcohol is now the third leading risk factor leading to illness and death from non-communicable and communicable diseases. Alcohol abuse also contributes to 200 other diseases.

Worldwide, more than 6 percent of male deaths are related to alcohol, and a little over 1 percent of female deaths are related to alcohol. Almost one in 10 deaths among people between the ages of 15 and 29 are related to alcohol. One in five men in the Russian Federation and nearby countries dies from alcohol-related causes.

The report recommended that governments raise alcohol taxes, restrict alcohol sales, reduce the number of outlets that sell alcohol, raise the drinking age, enact more effective drunk-driving measures, promote prevention and alcohol treatment programs, and restrict some alcohol advertising.

Shekhar Saxena, director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO, said that in some parts of the world, one-third of deaths among young people are attributed to alcohol. Saxena added that alcohol consumption and its harmful effects are increasing in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, which have fewer regulations and health services. Saxena also added that people of Asian descent are more susceptible to developing throat cancer from alcohol abuse.

Saxena said that people who are dependent on alcohol live an average of 10 years less than those who do not have alcohol consumption problems. Because the majority of alcohol-related deaths occur under the age of 60, these deaths are premature and could be prevented, according to Saxena.

Source:, WHO: Alcohol Abuse Kills 2.5 Million People Each Year, February 11, 2011

Posted on February 14th, 2011
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

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