GLOBAL – A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that alcohol consumption is responsible for approximately 2.6 million deaths annually.

The study, which uses data from 2019, indicates that 4.7 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol, with men accounting for two million of these fatalities. 

The WHO estimates that around 400 million people globally suffer from alcohol and drug use disorders, with 209 million people experiencing alcohol dependence.  

Despite some reduction in alcohol-related death rates since 2010, the overall number of deaths remains high particularly in the European and African regions. 

The report details that of all deaths attributable to alcohol in 2019, an estimated 1.6 million were due to noncommunicable diseases. This includes 474,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 401,000 from cancer.  

Additionally, around 724,000 deaths were due to injuries, including those from traffic crashes, self-harm, and interpersonal violence. Another 284,000 deaths were linked to communicable diseases. 

The highest proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths in 2019 was among young people aged 20 to 39 years, accounting for 13 percent of the total deaths.  

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted the severe impact of substance use on individual health, noting the increased risk of chronic diseases and mental health conditions.  

He emphasized the need for urgent actions to reduce the negative health and social consequences of alcohol consumption and make treatment for substance use disorders accessible and affordable. 

The report also indicates a slight decrease in total alcohol per capita consumption from 5.7 liters in 2010 to 5.5 liters in 2019.  

On average, drinkers consume 27 grams of pure alcohol per day, roughly equivalent to two glasses of wine, two bottles of beer, or two servings of spirits. Among 15- to 19-year-olds, 23.5 percent are drinkers, with the highest rates in the European region (45.9%) followed by the Americas (43.9%). 

Earlier this month, WHO listed ultra-processed foods (UPFs) and alcohol among the four products causing 19 million deaths per year globally.  

The organization has called for bold actions to address these issues and promote healthier, more equitable societies. 

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