The study did not look at other costs such as pain and suffering by the drinker or others affected by the drinking, so the total costs may well be higher, the agency says. Excessive drinking cost $746 per person in 2006, the researchers estimated.
There are many harms associated with excess drinking, Frieden said. "Chronic health problems such as cirrhosis of the liver, inflammations of the pancreas, cancers including, liver, mouth, throat and esophageal cancer, high blood pressure, mental health problems and injuries, violence including homicide, suicide and domestic violence -- all are substantially contributed to by unhealthy patterns of alcohol intake," he said.
In addition, alcohol can harm a fetus if a mother drinks while pregnant, Frieden noted.
To come up with their conclusions, the researchers looked at data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Application, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol-Related Conditions and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The most current data was from 2006, they noted.
A 1998 study by The Lewin Group, a private health care consulting firm in Falls Church, Va., estimated the cost of excessive drinking at about $185 billion, the researchers said.
For more on alcohol and health, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Oct. 17, 2011, teleconference with: Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, U.S. Centers for Diseaase Control and Prevention; Oct. 17, 2011, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, online
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