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Alcohol-Related Ills Increasing Worldwide
Date:6/25/2009

One in 25 deaths is drinking-related, study finds

THURSDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- Consumption of alcohol is up, and so it seems are the ills associated with it. Worldwide, one in 25 deaths and 5 percent of the years that people live with health-related disabilities are related to alcohol, according to a new study.

Globally, average yearly alcohol consumption per person is the equivalent of about 1.6 gallons (6.2 liters) of pure ethanol a year, or about 12 units a week per person (with one unit equaling 0.3 ounces, or 10 milliliters). Annual consumption per person was found to be highest in Europe, where it equals 3.1 gallons (11.9 liters) of ethanol (21.5 units a week). That compares with 2.5 gallons (9.4 liters) a year (18 units a week) in North America and 0.2 gallons (0.7 liters) a year (1.3 units a week) in the eastern Mediterranean, which has the lowest levels.

"In all regions worldwide, men consume more alcohol than do women, although the exact ratio varies, with women in high-income countries consuming a larger proportion than those in low-income countries," wrote Dr. Jurgen Rehm, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and colleagues.

"In the interpretation of these numbers," he added, "we should keep in mind that most of the adult population worldwide actually abstains from drinking alcohol (45 percent of men and 66 percent of women), most of them for their lifetime."

In 2004, the latest year with global data available to the researchers, one in 25 deaths worldwide, or 3.8 percent, were attributable to alcohol -- 6.3 percent of male deaths and 1.8 percent of female deaths. Europe had the highest rate of alcohol-associated deaths, at 10 percent, the study found. Within Europe, former Soviet Union countries had the highest rate, 15 percent.

In terms of volume of alcohol consumed per person, alcohol-related death rates were highest in developing countries, especial
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