Drinking Behind Many Early Deaths Each Year

Alcohol consumption behind many premature deaths including those from liver disease and car crashes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Drinking may be seen as a way to relax, but in some cases it can easily become a serious issue. A new study suggests that excessive drinking may be leading to many early deaths in the US.

Researchers from a number of state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined how excess drinking may be tied to early deaths.

This study found that during 2006 to 2010, nearly one out of 10 deaths of working age adults was associated with alcohol.

"Seek help if worried about how alcohol is starting to affect your daily life."

Mandy Stahre, PhD, MPH, of the Washington State Department of Health, was the lead author of this study.

According to Dr. Stahre and colleagues, excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking and heavy weekly use of alcohol, leads to many premature deaths each year. This study aimed to explore just how many deaths alcohol contributes to and the number of years of potential life lost from these deaths.

To do so, Dr. Stahre and team utilized data from the CDC's Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application for 2006 to 2010. Deaths that occurred in working age adults (adults between the ages of 20 and 64) were analyzed in this study.

A total of 54 causes were considered potentially alcohol-related. Those causes included alcoholic liver disease, certain forms of acute injuries, like motor vehicle crashes, and some instances of cancer and heart disease.

The researchers found that during the time of the study, an average of 87,796 premature, alcohol-attributable deaths occurred each year. This accounted for a rate of 27.9 alcohol-attributable deaths for every 100,000 adults between 20 and 64.

"Among working-age adults, 9.8 percent of all deaths in the United States during this period were attributable to excessive drinking," Dr. Stahre and team wrote.

It was also found that an estimated 2.5 million years of life were potentially lost due to these deaths.

Rates of these premature deaths varied from state to state. The highest rate of alcohol-associated deaths occurred in New Mexico, where the rate was estimated to be 51.2 deaths for every 100,000 people. The lowest rate was seen in New Jersey, with 19.1 deaths for every 100,000 people.

It is important to note that this study used a number of estimations, and that further research is needed to confirm these findings. 

Dr. Stahre and team suggested that steps like higher alcohol taxes could potentially help reduce excessive drinking.

This study was published online June 26 in CDC's Preventing Chronic Diseases. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
June 25, 2014
Last Updated:
June 26, 2014