More People Are Dying From Drinking Too Much

While men account for most of the deaths, women are catching up.

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alcohol-death
alcohol-death

The number of alcohol-related deaths has grown rapidly in recent decades, according to a new analysis of death certificates. 

The yearly total of alcohol-related deaths for people ages 16 and over more than doubled, from 35,914 in 1999 to 72,558 in 2017. There were almost 1 million such deaths overall in that time.

While middle-aged men accounted for the majority of those deaths, women — especially white women — are catching up, the study found. That’s concerning in part because women’s bodies tend to be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol.

“Women are at greater risk than men at comparable levels of alcohol exposure for alcohol-related cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, alcohol-related liver disease and acute liver failure due to excessive drinking,” the study authors wrote.

“Because women reach higher blood alcohol levels than men of comparable weights after consuming the same amount of alcohol, their body tissues are exposed to more alcohol and acetaldehyde, a toxic metabolite of alcohol, after each drink,” the authors continued.

alcohol-death
alcohol-death

Government guidelines recommend that women have no more than one alcoholic drink a day and that men have no more than two.

What’s more, there was an increase in alcohol-related emergency room visits among people over age 65, largely due to injuries caused by falling. Alcohol impairs balance on its own, of course, but it can also interact with medications, worsening the problem.

A separate report published last summer found that 1 in 10 seniors engaged in binge drinking.

The vast majority of alcohol-related deaths among teenagers in the new report involved acute alcohol consumption. The rate of such deaths held steady for young men during the study’s time period but increased among young women.

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