One in 10 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 in the U.S. will die due to excessive alcohol use, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report was published on June 26, 2014, in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.
Excessive alcohol use can shorten people’s lives by about 30 years, and leads to approximately 88,000 deaths per year. Researchers based the findings on data from the years 2006 to 2010, which totaled 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year.
The source was the Alcohol-Disease Impact application, which provides national and state estimates of alcohol-related deaths and years of potential life lost. The effects of excessive alcohol use were:
- Long term effects: health problems such as breast cancer, heart disease, and liver disease.
- Short term effects: alcohol poisoning, motor vehicle crashes, and violence.
“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.”
The researchers defined excessive drinking as:
- binge drinking (four or more drinks at a time for women, 5 or more for men)
- Heavy drinking (8 or more drinks a week for women, 15 or more drinks a week for men
- Any alcohol use by women under the legal age of drinking (21)
- Alcohol use by pregnant women
- 70 percent of the deaths caused by excessive drinking were among working-age adults
- 70 percent of the deaths were males
- 5 percent of the deaths were of people under the age of 21
- New Mexico had the highest death rate due to excessive drinking (51 deaths per 100,000 in the population)
- New Jersey had the lowest death rate (19.1 per 100,000)
The CDC estimates that excessive drinking costs the U.S. about $224 ($1.90) in 2006. Most of the costs are due to the loss of productivity, including reduced earnings by excessive drinkers, and deaths caused by excessive drinking.
“It’s shocking to see the public health impact of excessive drinking on working-age adults,” said Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., head of CDC’s Alcohol Program and one of the report’s authors. “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.”
More information about excessive drinking and how to prevent it is available on the CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health website.