Alcohol Leading Cause of Disease and Injury Across the Globe

Alcohol Leading Cause of Disease and Injury Across the Globe

Alcohol Leading Cause of Disease and Injury Across the Globe

Alcohol Leading Cause of Disease and Injury Across the GlobeA startling report on the use of alcohol done by the World Health Organization provides a glimpse into the danger alcohol presents worldwide.

The WHO collected hard figures in 2005 and used them to calculate probably statistics for 2010. The report sounds a warning bell that alcohol use is a global killer.

1.  Alcohol abuse kills 2.5 million people every year and is responsible for many more injuries and illnesses. Close to 4 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol. Among 15- to 29-year-olds, alcohol is responsible for 9 percent of all deaths.

2.  Alcohol is No. 3 on the list of world health concerns behind underweight children and unsafe sex. Worldwide, alcohol use is more deadly than dirty water, tobacco, obesity and high blood pressure.

3.  Alcohol use is one of the four most common causes behind leading non-communicable diseases. Drinking directly causes over 200 diseases and/or injuries. It is also closely connected to many serious communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted illnesses and tuberculosis.

4.  Alcohol use  impacts social and individual development. The drinker and everyone near him/her suffers. Individual health and wellness are affected but because violence, abuse and neglect often accompany alcohol use, society as a whole pays the price.

5.  The Middle East, North Africa and South Asia drink the smallest amounts of alcohol while Europe and parts of southern Africa consume the greatest quantities. North Americans and Canadians consume one and one-half as much alcohol as the global average. North Americans binge drink more than do Europeans.

6.  About 30 percent of the alcohol consumed globally in 2005 did not come from the store; it was either made at home or by some illegal process.

7.  In global terms, 50 percent of men and 66 percent of women do not drink. This means that a disproportionate number of men and women are creating a health burden through their alcohol consumption.

The World Health Organization also made recommendations on policies that could help curb alcohol consumption. Those recommendations included the following:

  • Increase taxes on alcohol. Price affects consumption.
  • Reduce the number of outlets through which alcohol is available.
  • Increase the legal age for drinking alcohol.
  • Implement proven drink/driving controls.
  • Increase regulations on alcohol advertising or ban advertising altogether.

The problem of alcohol consumption is not limited to the U.S., it is a global concern.  Nevertheless, the world will not accomplish a solution; it must happen on the smaller stage. In the case of our own country, tobacco and obesity get far more press despite the fact that they have been demonstrated to be less dangerous than alcohol.

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