Study: Alcohol Worsens Global Burden of Disease
A new study published in the Lancet shows that alcohol worsens the global burden of disease.
Alcohol-attributable death rates were highest in Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and countries with low human development indices (HDIs). Globally, young people and men were the most negatively affected from alcohol use.
The study was led by Kevin Shield, PhD, and investigated global trends in the alcohol-related burden of disease. The researchers did a comparative risk assessment for 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2016 using alcohol exposure data and relative risk (RR) estimates.
Mortality data, years of life lost (YLLs), years lived with disability (YLDs), and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) were obtained from World Health Organization Global Health Estimates, and population and HDI data were obtained from the United Nations Population Division and the United Nations Development Program, respectively.
Alcohol use status data stratified by age brackets were extracted from national surveys and taxation data. Population attributable fractions (PAFs) were estimated by combining alcohol exposure data with RR estimates.
Key findings from the study
- In 2016, 3.0 million deaths and 131.4 million DALYs could be attributed to alcohol, representing 5.3% of all worldwide deaths and 5% of of all worldwide DALYs.
- The global burden of disease due to alcohol was principally linked to mortality (106.6 million YLLs) rather than morbidity (24.8 million YLDs).
- Alcohol use was a major risk factor for death due to communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions (PAF, 3.3%), including tuberculosis (PAF, 18.3%), HIV/AIDS (PAF, 3.0%), and lower respiratory infections (PAF, 3.2%).
- Alcohol use significantly increased the risk for death from non-communicable diseases (PAF, 4.3%) and injury (PAF, 17.7%).
Regional differences were noted in alcohol-related death and disease burden as follows:
- The alcohol-attributable age-standardized death rates and DALYs were highest in Eastern Europe (primarily due to ischemic heart disease) and in sub-Saharan African regions (where cirrhosis takes a serious toll).
- The wider Middle East-North Africa region was the least affected.
- In 2016, countries with a low HDI had the greatest age-standardized rates of alcohol attributable deaths (67.5 per 100,000 people) and DALYs (2872.6 per 100,000 people).
Age differences in alcohol related death and disease burden was noted as follows:
- In people aged 30 to 34 years, 13.7% of all deaths were attributable to alcohol.
- 57.4% of all alcohol-attributable deaths in individuals younger than 60 years occurred in men, whereas 39.3% occurred in women.
Globally, health gains attained through improvements in the alcohol-attributable burden of disease have proportionally not kept pace with total health gains,” said the researchers of the study, as per, Psychiatry Advisor.
…cost-effective local and national policy measures that can reduce alcohol use and the resulting burden of disease are needed, especially in low-income and middle-income countries,” concluded the researchers, as per, The Lancet.