News

WHO: Alcohol killed 3.3M people in 2012

WHO: Alcohol killed 3.3M people in 2012

DRINKING:The global status report on alcohol and health covered 194 countries and looked at alcohol consumption, its impact on public health and policy responses. Photo: clipart.com

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 3 million people died from using alcohol in 2012, for reasons ranging from cancer to violence, the World Health Organization said on Monday, as it called on governments to do more to limit the damage.

“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption,” said Oleg Chestnov, a WHO expert on chronic disease and mental health.

He added there was “no room for complacency”, warning that drinking too much kills more men then women, raises people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases, and killed 3.3 million people in 2012.

On average, according to the WHO report, every person in the world aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 liters of pure alcohol per year. But less than half the population – 38.3 percent – drinks, so those who do drink on average 17 liters of pure alcohol a year.

“We found that worldwide about 16 percent of drinkers engage in heavy episodic drinking – often referred to as ‘binge-drinking’ – which is the most harmful to health,” said Shekhar Saxena, director for mental health and substance abuse at the WHO.

Poorer people are generally more affected by the social and health consequences of alcohol, he said: “They often lack quality health care and are less protected by functional family or community networks.”

The global status report on alcohol and health covered 194 countries and looked at alcohol consumption, its impact on public health and policy responses.

It found that some countries are already strengthening measures to protect people from harmful drinking. Those include increasing taxes on alcohol, limiting its availability by raising age limits and regulating marketing.

More countries should take similar action, WHO said. More also needed to be done to raise awareness of the damage alcohol can do to people’s health and screen for those who may need earlier intervention to cut down or stop.

Globally, Europe consumes the most alcohol per person. Some of its countries having particularly high rates of harmful drinking.

A study published earlier this year found that a quarter of all Russian men die before they reach their mid-fifties, largely from drinking to excess. Some men in that study reported drinking three or more bottles of vodka a week.

The WHO said global trend analyses showed that drinking has been stable over the last five years in Europe, Africa and the Americas. But it is growing in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.

(Editing by Larry King)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Collins, Bellows Square Off in 2nd Debate

GENERIC VOTE

BANGOR, Maine (AP) _ Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows are squaring off in another debate.

in Local

Court: Maine Agency Can Campaign Against Bear Vote

BEAR-LARGE

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A Portland judge says the state's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife can use its resources to campaign against a statewide referendum to ban certain bear-hunting tactics.

in Local

30 Maine Guard Members Home from Middle East

GENERIC NATIONAL GUARD

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ About 30 members of the Maine National Guard are home from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

in Local

Police Waiting on Autopsy in Lewiston Baby Death

Newsradio WGAN

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) _ Maine's state Medical Examiner's Office is still preparing an autopsy report for a baby found unresponsive in a Lewiston bathtub.

in Local

Maine’s High Court Allows Grand Falls Wind Farm

GENERIC WIND FARM

GRAND FALLS TOWNSHIP, Maine (AP) _ Maine's highest court is upholding a state Board of Environmental Protection decision to give a developer the go-ahead to build a wind farm on Passadumkeag Ridge in Grand Falls Township.