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One in 10 working-age adults die from excessive use of alcohol

Wine Three Glasses images-5Excessive alcohol use accounts for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults ages 20-64 years in the United States, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Thursday in Preventing Chronic Disease

Excessive alcohol use led to about 88,000 deaths per year from 2006 to 2010, and shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years. 

The deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease; and health effects from drinking too much in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and motor vehicle crashes.

The report said 2.5 million years of potential life were lost each year due to excessive alcohol use.

Nearly 70 percent of deaths due to excessive drinking involved working-age adults, and about 70 percent of the deaths involved males. About 5 percent of the deaths involved people under age 21. 

The highest death rate was in New Mexico, 51 deaths per 100,000 population, and the lowest was in New Jersey, 19.1 per 100,000.

“Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death that kills many Americans in the prime of their lives,” said Ursula E. Bauer, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “We need to redouble our efforts to implement scientifically proven public health approaches to reduce this tragic loss of life and the huge economic costs that result.”

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, four or more drinks on an occasion for women and five or more drinks on an occasion for men; heavy drinking, eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more drinks a week for men; and any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under the minimum legal drinking age of 21. 

Excessive drinking cost the U.S. about $224 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006, according to the report. Most of these costs were due to lost productivity, including reduced earnings among excessive drinkers as well as deaths due to excessive drinking among working age adults.

To estimate deaths due to excessive drinking, CDC scientists analyzed data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application for 2006-2010. 

The Community Preventive Services Task Force of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends several strategies to reduce excessive drinking. They include increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density, and avoiding further privatization of alcohol retail sales.

For more information on excessive drinking, including binge drinking, visit the CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health website at http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/index.htm

Members of the public who are concerned about their own or someone else's drinking can call 800-662-HELP to receive assistance from the national Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service.  

For estimates of deaths and years of potential life lost due to excessive drinking for each state, visit the ARDI at https://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/ardi/HomePage.aspx.

Copyright 2014, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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