World Health says alcohol kills more people worldwide than AIDS


The World Health Organization says alcohol is responsible for more deaths than AIDS. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A new report by the World Health Organization claims that alcohol leads to more deaths worldwide than tuberculosis or AIDS. The WHO posits that more than 2 million people die every year from alcohol related causes, accounting for 4 percent of all deaths. It is estimated to pose the greatest risk of death for males ages 15 to 59.

People face more risk of death from alcohol than anything else

The World Health Organization has released a report claiming alcohol consumption leads to more deaths worldwide than any other cause, according to MSNBC. The WHO states that nearly 2.5 million people die every year from alcohol related causes such as cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease and other causes such as drunk driving and other accidents. That accounts for up to 4 percent of all worldwide fatalities, more than tuberculosis, AIDS or malaria. The WHO report, titled “Global strategy to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol” states alcohol consumption “is also associated with several infectious diseases like tuberculosis and AIDS,” though it doesn’t clarify whether that means people who binge drink can engage in risky behavior, which is true.

Males at higher risk than females

The report highlights that males face greater risk of death from alcohol related causes than females do. Men are said to overindulge more than women, by a ratio of four to one, and men binge drink more than women worldwide. Binge drinking is considered a scourge in many countries and is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as consuming more than five drinks in an evening for men, and four drinks over a two hour period for women. The CDC maintains that most who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, even if they were enjoying Four Loko.

Health benefits of moderation

The WHO report acknowledges that people who drink in moderation, two or fewer drinks per day, are at lower risk for heart attacks or strokes. However, the benefits are canceled out by people who engage in heavy drinking sessions. The report also notes that people in wealthier nations tend to drink moderately overall. People in areas with repressive attitudes toward alcohol, especially in predominately Muslim countries, tend to binge drink more than others.



WHO report on alcohol (PDF – requires Adobe Reader)


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