Alcohol consumption is a necessary cause of nearly 80,000 deaths per year in the Americas

January 14, 2014

A new study published in the scientific journal Addiction by the Pan American Health Organization, a branch of the World Health Organization, has measured the number and pattern of deaths caused by alcohol consumption in 16 North and Latin American countries. The study reveals that between 2007 and 2009, alcohol was a 'necessary' cause of death (i.e., death would not have occurred in the absence of alcohol consumption) in an average of 79,456 cases per year. Liver disease was the main culprit in most countries.

According to the authors, Dr. Vilma Gawryszewski and Dr. Maristela Monteiro, "The mortality rates found in this study reveal the tip of the iceberg of a broader problem. There is a wide range of diseases and conditions linked to alcohol use, including tuberculosis, heart disease, stroke, epilepsy, falls, suicides, transport-related injuries, and interpersonal violence, among others. Our study simply shows how many deaths are wholly attributable to alcohol consumption. The number of deaths for which alcohol consumption is a significant contributing factor is likely to be much higher."

The highest death rates from alcohol consumption occurred in the Central American countries of El Salvador (averaging 27.4 out of 100,000 deaths per year), Guatemala (22.3), and Nicaragua (21.3). These were also three of the four countries in which the most consumed alcoholic beverage was spirits; Cuba was the fourth.

Men accounted for 84% of all deaths in which alcohol was a necessary cause. However, the ratio male/female varied widely among countries. The risk of a man dying from an alcohol fully-related cause in El Salvador was 27.8 times higher than that of a woman, 18.9 in Nicaragua and 14.8 in Cuba. On the low end of the scale, the male mortality risk was 3.2 times higher than the female mortality risk in Canada and the USA, and 4.3 in Peru.

The risk of dying from also differed by age group. In Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Paraguay and the USA, the highest were seen among those aged 50-69 years. In Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela, the rates started increasing from 40-49 years of age, remained stable, and then dropped after age 70. Mexico showed a different pattern, the risk of escalating throughout life and reaching its peak after age 70. Each of those countries has a life expectancy of over 70 years.

Explore further: Study shows alcohol consumption is a leading preventable cause of cancer death in the US

More information: Gawryszewski VP and Monteiro MG. Mortality from diseases, conditions, and injuries where alcohol is a necessary cause in the Americas, 2007-2009. Addiction, 109: DOI: 10.1111/add.12418

Related Stories

Study shows alcohol consumption is a leading preventable cause of cancer death in the US

February 14, 2013
Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have shown that alcohol is a major contributor to cancer deaths and years of potential life lost. These ...

Excessive alcohol consumption increases progression of atherosclerosis and the risk of stroke

October 21, 2013
A Finnish population-based study showed that binge drinking was associated with increased atherosclerotic progression in an 11-year follow-up of middle-aged men. The progression of atherosclerosis was increased among men ...

Effects of a large reduction in alcohol prices on mortality in Finland

April 8, 2011
Does a reduction in the price of alcohol result in an increase in deaths due to alcohol? This was the subject of a study following a significant reduction in taxes in Finland in 2004 (30% for spirits, 3% for wine).The abolition ...

James Bond's preference for shaken martinis may be due to alcohol-induced tremor, say experts

December 12, 2013
James Bond's alcohol consumption may explain why he prefers his martinis "shaken, not stirred" say researchers in the Christmas edition of The BMJ this week.

Drop in alcohol-related deaths by nearly a third follows minimum alcohol price increase of 10 percent

February 6, 2013
A new study made available online today in Addiction shows that, between 2002 and 2009, the percentage of deaths caused by alcohol in British Columbia, Canada dropped more than expected when minimum alcohol price was increased, ...

Inverse association between alcohol consumption, multiple sclerosis

January 6, 2014
Drinking alcohol appears to have a dose-dependent inverse (opposite) association with the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) and researchers suggest their findings give no support to advising patients with MS to completely ...

Recommended for you

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.