Study Discovers Alcohol Consumption Causes 1 In 5 Deaths In Young Adults

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol use rose as the day-to-day stress from everything that was going on, the daily stressors, and the lack of regular work and school routines led people to drink more than they ever had before.
However, a new study on alcohol-related deaths shows that excessive drinking was already a growing issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic happened.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, around 1 in 8 deaths of adults between the ages of 20 to 64 years old were actually due to excessive drinking within a five-year period that ended in 2019. Within that same time frame, drinking also caused around 1 in 5 deaths of younger adults, aged 20 to 49 years old.

The CDC researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the JAMA Network Open, shares how there were a number of policy changes – including higher alcohol taxes, rigid regulations of alcohol sales, and an extensive screening and treatment for alcohol misuse – all of which can help prevent these deaths.

In the study, the team explained, “These premature deaths could be reduced through increased implementation of evidence-based alcohol policies.”

Many studies have found that drinking has adverse long-term effects. Alcohol consumption is also associated with many leading causes of premature death, such as liver disease, heart disease, motor vehicle crashes, some cancers, and other accidental injuries. But, because many U.S. alcohol-related deaths before were more focused mostly on “fully alcohol-attributable causes,” like alcoholic liver disease and not on such causes as cancer, which can also be partly due to alcohol use.

In the new study, the researchers used a CDC database that counts the proportion of deaths from a large variety of causes that may either be fully or partially due to alcohol consumption. This also gave the new study the chance to include fatalities that are only sometimes due to alcohol consumption, like falls, high blood pressure, drownings, stroke, and other types of cancer.

Throughout the study period, around 900,000 deaths in every year in adults aged 20 to 64 year old were because of excessive drinking. This accounted for 12.9 percent of fatalities within this particular age group.

Moreover, the study also found that the proportion of deaths due to alcohol consumption also varied from state to state. For example, there was 9.3 percent of deaths in Mississippi due to alcohol, while being 21.7 percent in New Mexico.

In addition, alcohol was also responsible for 15 percent of deaths in men yearly, as compared to 9.4 percent of deaths in women. Plus, the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths were quite similar between men and women, however they changed slightly by age.

The top three causes of death in people aged 20 to 34 years old were motor vehicle crashes, poisonings, and homicides. Meanwhile, for adults aged 35 to 49 years old, the three top causes were poisonings, motor vehicle crashes, and alcoholic liver disease.

However, the researchers note that one limitation of the study is that it could have underestimated the number of alcohol-related deaths. This was due to the researchers only having data on fatalities where the underlying cause of death were alcohol-related conditions. Also, they lacked data on fatalities of former drinkers that may have died from alcohol-related causes.

Alcohol consumption seemed to get worse during the pandemic, but this period wasn’t covered by the new study. But, another study that was published earlier in the year in JAMA by a team from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism discovered that there was a surge of alcohol-related deaths of 26 percent between the years 2019 and 2020. This also showed preliminary data that suggests these fatalities continued to get higher through 2021.

The CDC advises that to lessen the risk of these preventable deaths, adults who drink should only drink in moderation. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than two daily drinks for men, and one for women, while also stressing that less is better for one’s health overall.

The CDC explains that one drink could mean ‘12-ounces of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, 8-ounces of malt liquor, or a 1.5-ounce shot of spirits or liquor.’