Alcohol linked to nearly one-in-ten deaths among under 50s

There is no safe level of alcohol drinking, something linked to almost one-in-ten deaths in adults under 50 globally, says a study published today in 
The Lancet.

Alcohol plays a part in around 2.8m deaths a year and is the biggest risk factor for death in adults under 50, the study says. In over-50s cancers are among the most common type of alcohol-related death, 27% of those in women and 19% in men.

“The conclusions are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer,” says Dr Robyn Burton of King’s College London.

The researchers found an alcoholic drink equivalent to around half a pint of lager increased the risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related health problems by 0.5% when compared to the risk when drinking none.

“The strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for ischaemic heart disease in women in our study,” said lead author Max Griswold of the University of Washington.

The findings are based on estimates of alcohol consumption and its health impact in 195 countries based on sales data. It drew on 592 studies covering 28m people in its assessment of the health risks.

The research was funded by the Gates Foundation, which was set up to improve healthcare and reduce extreme poverty.