Alcohol Kills 255 People Per Day in the US.
Every day, an average of 255 people die from alcohol use in the US.
That’s according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report co-authored by School of Public Health researchers.
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Alcohol Program in CDC’s Division of Population Health reports that alcohol use is responsible for more than 93,000 deaths in the US each year, shortening the lives of those who die by an average of 29 years.
“Of all alcohol-attributable deaths in a year, 51,078 (or 54.7 percent) were caused by chronic conditions,” says report co-author Richard Saitz, professor and chair of community health sciences, “and the amounts of alcohol associated with those are fewer than one drink a day on average for women and fewer than two for men.”
These chronic conditions include many different cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and liver diseases from drinking too much over time.
Less than half (45 percent) of the deaths were linked to drinking too much in a short period of time, such as poisonings involving another substance, suicide, and car crashes. “More than three drinks on an occasion for women and more than four for men is too much,” Saitz notes.
This study is the culmination of multi-year scientific and technical updates to the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) application.
ARDI estimates alcohol-attributable deaths based on the total number of US deaths in a year with an underlying cause corresponding to any of 58 alcohol-related conditions. The ARDI multiplies the number of deaths from each of these conditions by the conditions’ “alcohol-attributable fraction.” For example, alcohol liver cirrhosis is 100 percent attributable to alcohol, so one death from alcohol liver cirrhosis would be one death from alcohol, while breast cancer is less than 1 percent attributable to alcohol, so over 100 deaths from breast cancer would equal one death from alcohol.
ARDI also estimates years of life lost, based on each person’s age at death compared with their life expectancy. The study found that more than 80 percent of alcohol-related deaths involved adults aged 35 years and older, and that alcohol-related deaths occurred, on average, 29 years short of life expectancy. The ARDI tool can be used by anyone to calculate alcohol-related deaths by age, sex, locale, and other factors, and to provide data to health departments and policymakers.
The study also found that more than 70 percent of those who died were men, and that death rates tied to excessive alcohol use varied by state, ranging from 20 deaths per 100,000 people in New York to 52 deaths per 100,000 people in New Mexico.
The authors of the report call for policymakers to implement effective strategies to prevent excessive drinking, such as those recommended by The Community Preventive Services Task Force, including regulating the number and concentration of alcohol outlets.
The report was co-authored by Timothy Naimi, professor of community health sciences at SPH and of general internal medicine at the School of Medicine, and a physician and alcohol epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center.
The report’s lead author is Marissa B. Esser of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC. The other co-authors are
Adam Sherk and Timothy Stockwell of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria; Yong Liu, Dafna Kanny, and Robert D. Brewer of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC; Mandy Stahre, of the State of Washington Office of Financial Management; and Michael Landen of the New Mexico Department of Health.
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