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article imageWHO: Alcohol kills millions per year

By Jessie McMullen     May 12, 2014 in Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) wants global governments to crack down after study shows that alcohol kills millions per year.
Alcohol is contributing to the deaths of 3.3 million people per year, according to WHO.
The "Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014" reviewed 194 countries to look at the consumption and its effect on public health and policy responses.
According to the report, alcohol not only leads to violence and injuries, it can also increase the risk of more than 200 diseases, including liver cirrhosis and several types of cancer.
"More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption," Dr. Oleg Chestnov, WHO's assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases and mental health said in a statement Monday.
Alcohol causes death and disability relatively early life, according to the report. About 25 percent of deaths among 20- to 39-year-olds can be associated with alcohol.
The report found 7.6 percent of death of men around the world are related to alcohol, as are 4 percent of women's deaths. WHO said they are concerned about the steady increase in alcohol among women.
WHO found that on average every person in the world over the age of 15 drinks 6.2 liters of alcohol per year. But less than half of the world's population drinks, so on average 38.3 percent of those who drink consume 17 liters of alcohol per year.
"We found that worldwide about 16 percent of drinkers engage in heavy episodic drinking — often referred to as 'binge-drinking' — which is the most harmful to health," said Dr. Shekar Saxena, director for mental health and substance abuse at WHO.
Some countries reviewed in the report already have regulations in place to protect people from the risks of alcohol. While many countries do not have national awareness programs or national policies to reduce alcohol related risks.
Governments across the globe have the responsibility to inform as well as enforce public policies to reduce harmful risks of alcohol use. This includes regulating the sale of alcohol, drinking and driving policies, taxation and pricing of alcohol to reduce demand, raising awareness of health issues caused by alcohol and providing treatment for alcohol-use disorders.
Europe has the highest consumption of alcohol per capita, according to the report. Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific are seeing increases in alcohol consumption, while the Americas and Africa's trend are stable.
As shown in the report, poorer people are more affected by social and health risks of alcohol.
"They often lack quality healthcare and are less protected by functional family or community networks," Saxena said.
More about World health organization, Alcohol, Death, Europe, Southeast asia
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