1 in 10 deaths among U.S. adults due to excessive drinking

WASHINGTON, (PNA/Xinhua) — Excessive drinking accounted for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20 to 64 years in the United States and cost the country about USD 224 billion per year, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday.

The study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease found that excessive alcohol use resulted in approximately 88,000 deaths in the United States per year from 2006 to 2010, and shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years on average.

“These deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease; and health effects from drinking too much in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and motor vehicle crashes,” the CDC said in a statement.

“In total, there were 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year due to excessive alcohol use,” it said.

Nearly 70 percent of deaths due to excessive drinking involved working-age adults, and about 70 percent of the deaths involved males, the study said.

According to the CDC report, excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking and any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under the minimum legal drinking age of 21.

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks on an occasion for women and five or more drinks on an occasion for men, while heavy drinking is eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more drinks a week for men.

The cost of excessive drinking in the United States reached USD 224 billion, or USD 1.90 per drink, in 2006, the report said.

Most of these costs were due to lost productivity, including reduced earnings among excessive drinkers as well as deaths due to excessive drinking among working age adults, it added.

“It’s shocking to see the public health impact of excessive drinking on working-age adults,” said Robert Brewer, head of CDC’s Alcohol Program and one of the report’s authors.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts advising the U.S. government, recommends several strategies to reduce excessive drinking, including increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density, and avoiding further privatization of alcohol retail sales. (PNA/Xinhua)