This week’s Lancet, had an interesting review article of alcohol-use disorders by Marc Schuckit. In this article, he provides a really great summary of the burden of disease associated with the use of alcohol, arguing that some of the most severe effects come from neuropsychiatric disorders associated with the use of alcohol.

The associated editorial provides the following summary of the global burden of disease from alcohol-use disorders:

“Around 2 billion people worldwide consume alcoholic beverages and over 76 million people have alcohol-use disorders. In most parts of the world the burden related to alcohol consumption in terms of morbidity, mortality, and disability is substantial. WHO estimates that the harmful use of alcohol causes about 2·3 million premature deaths per year worldwide (3·7% of global mortality) and is responsible for 4·4% of the global burden of disease. Although there are regional and national differences in levels, patterns, and context of drinking, current trends suggest availability and alcohol consumption will continue to rise.”

The ways in which alcohol affects health are diverse. Alcohol is adversely associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, injuries and accidents. It is also believed to be a risk factor for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

I believe that alcohol-disorder policy research, in particular in a non-developed country setting, has received far too little attention from researchers. It is easier to point to more obvious risk factors such as smoking but to ignore risk factors that are perceived, perhaps incorrectly, to only affect a small subset of the population.

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2 Responses to “Alcohol and the global burden of disease”

  1. Klara says:

    Dear Karen,
    Thanks for an interesting post. Please link to the PubMed abstract instead of the article, so that we don’t have to log in through your university to access it…
    Cheers,
    Klara

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