Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Problem Drinking Kills Almost Half of Russia's Young Adult Men

Study puts death toll at 43% of males aged 25 to 54
Alcohol abuse now causes nearly half of all deaths of Russia's younger men, a new study finds.

In total, 43 percent of deaths among men ages 25 to 54 are linked to problem drinking, according to a study in this week's issue of The Lancet medical journal.

The authors of the study defined hazardous alcohol drinking as excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and spirits, and consumption of non-beverage alcohol such as cleaning agents, colognes and medical tinctures.

For this study, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health in England analyzed data on 1,750 men who died between 2003 and 2005, and 1,750 men who were still alive. All the men lived in Izhevsk, a typical Russian industrial city in the Ural mountains.

They found that men who were problem drinkers of alcoholic beverages, or who drank non-beverage alcohol, were six times more likely to die than men who did not have a drinking problem or did not drink at all.

Men who drank non-beverage alcohol were nine times more likely to die than men who did not consume non-beverage alcohol.

"Almost half of all deaths in working age men in a typical Russian city may be accounted for by hazardous drinking. Our analyses provide indirect support for the contention that the sharp fluctuations seen in Russian mortality in the early 1990s could be related to hazardous drinking as indicated by consumption of non-beverage alcohol," the study authors concluded.

However, an accompanying comment by two experts from Canada and Switzerland noted that many factors -- such as poor housing conditions and poor diets -- may have affected death rates during the years covered by the study and that it's "highly unlikely" that consumption of non-beverage alcohol was "the main contributor to the change of mortality."

Dr. Jurgen Rehm of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and Dr. Gerhard Gmel of an alcohol and drug abuse institute in Switzerland also noted that the study did not look at illegally-produced alcoholic beverages, a major source of alcohol consumption in Russia.

source: The Lancet

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