Alcohol a leading cause of preventable death

 The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that excessive alcohol drinking accounts for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults in the U.S.

This is a horrible waste of lives and the CDC is working with partners to support the implementation of strategies for preventing excessive alcohol use as recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force.

The CDC says excessive drinking includes binge drinking (four or more drinks on an occasion for women, five or more drinks on an occasion for men); heavy drinking (eight or more drinks a week for women, 15 or more drinks a week for men); and drinking while underage or pregnant.

 Annually from 2006 to 2010, excessive alcohol use led to an average of 87,798 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost. Excessive drinking shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years.

 Most of the deaths (69 percent) involved adults 20 to 64 years old. About 5 percent of the deaths involved people younger than 21.

These deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease and heart disease, as well as health effects from drinking too much in a short period, such as violence, alcohol poisoning and motor vehicle crashes.

The findings were based on an analysis of data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application for 2006-2010.

 The ARDI provides national and state-specific estimates of alcohol-attributable deaths and years of potential life lost. It currently includes 54 causes of death for which estimates of alcohol involvement were either directly available or could be calculated on the basis of existing scientific information.

The national annual average death rate due to excessive alcohol use was 28 deaths per 100,000. State-specific estimates of deaths and years of potential life lost because of excessive drinking by condition are available at

 Unfortunately, the estimates for 2006 through 2010 are similar to the 2001 estimates, which emphasize the substantial and ongoing public health impact of excessive drinking.

According to the CDC, excessive drinking cost the U.S. about $224 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006. Most of these costs were due to lost productivity, including reduced earnings among excessive drinkers as well as deaths due to excessive drinking among working-age adults.

 The real question is how to manage this problem. Prohibition has already been tried and was a dismal failure. Laws are already on the books to regulate the sale and use of alcohol. Yet it continues to injure and/or kill too many of those who use it.

Now, many states have chosen to disregard the lessons offered by alcohol and are choosing to allow recreational marijuana use in addition to alcohol, in spite of the fact that there is nothing in place to reliably measure the level of intoxication from marijuana.

In a few years, I hope that we are not going to look back on the injury and fatality statistics for marijuana and wonder why we let yet another dangerous drug out into our world, and especially the world of our children. Dr. Terry Gaff is a physician in northeast Indiana

 Source: 2nd August 2014

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