Heavy Alcohol Use Tied to 1 in 10 Deaths of Working-Age Adults

Excessive alcohol use is linked to one in 10 deaths among adults ages 20 to 64 years of age in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death that kills many Americans in the prime of their lives,” said Ursula E. Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

“We need to redouble our efforts to implement scientifically proven public health approaches to reduce this tragic loss of life and the huge economic costs that result.”

Heavy use of alcohol was accountable for about 88,000 deaths per year from 2006 to 2010, and it shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years.

Deaths were caused by health problems from drinking heavily over time, including breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease, as well as effects from drinking too much in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and car accidents.

Nearly 70 percent of deaths due to excessive drinking involved working-age adults, and about 70 percent of the deaths involved males. About five percent of the deaths involved people under age 21. The highest death rate due to excessive drinking was in New Mexico (51 deaths per 100,000 population), and the lowest was in New Jersey (19.1 per 100,000).

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking (four or more drinks at a time for women, five or more drinks at a time for men), heavy drinking (eight or more drinks a week for women, 15 or more drinks a week for men), and any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under the minimum legal drinking age of 21.

“It’s shocking to see the public health impact of excessive drinking on working-age adults,” said study author Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., head of CDC’s Alcohol Program.

“CDC is working with partners to support the implementation of strategies for preventing excessive alcohol use that are recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force, which can help reduce the health and social cost of this dangerous risk behavior.”

The study is published in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention