Alcohol kills an estimated 3 million people worldwide each year, representing one in twenty deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Friday (September 21st). In a report on global alcohol consumption and its adverse health consequences, the WHO stresses that alcohol consumption kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and violence combined.
The 5.3% of alcohol-related deaths worldwide each year, according to the WHO, are due to infectious diseases, traffic accidents, injuries, homicides, cardiovascular diseases as well as to diabetes created by excessive alcohol consumption. This rate even reaches 13.5% among the youngest (20-29 years). The male population is also particularly affected: three quarters of the deaths concern men.
Despite this alarming fact, the number of people getting killed as a result of alcohol is diminishing. Alcohol killed 3 million people in 2016, against 3.3 million in 2012 according to the previous report of the WHO on the subject. The institution notes that there have been “some positive global trends”, and highlights the reduction since 2010 of episodic drinking and the number of alcohol-related deaths. But, experts say, “the overall burden of illness and injury caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptable, especially in the European region and in the Americas”.
Europe has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in the world, although this consumption has decreased by more than 10% since 2010. Alcohol consumption has decreased in three quarters of European countries, with very strong reductions recorded, particularly in Russia, where the annual consumption of alcohol (measured in liters of pure alcohol) per capita decreased from 18.7 liters in 2005 to 11.7 liters in 2016.
This “dramatic decrease” can be explained by the implementation by the Russian government of measures recommended by the WHO, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak told the media, citing among others the introduction of a minimum price for vodka and the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages at service stations.
However, the WHO is forecasting an increase in global alcohol consumption over the next decade, particularly in Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific and the Americas. The average daily consumption of people drinking alcohol is 33 grams of pure alcohol, the equivalent of 2 glasses of wine (150 ml each) or a bottle of beer (750 ml) or two ” shots of spirits (40 ml each).
The increase in global consumption “will certainly lead to an increase in the number of deaths and suffering worldwide,” warned Mr Poznyak, who recommends that international sports bodies, such as FIFA, “put an end to” sponsorship by manufacturers of alcoholic beverages.