Alcohol Kills 3 Million People Per Year

More than 3 million people died as a result of the harmful use of alcohol in 2016, according to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) today.

This represents 1 in 20 deaths. More than three-quarters of these deaths were among men. Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than 5% of the global disease burden.

WHO’s Global status report on alcohol and health 2018presents a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the disease burden attributable to alcohol worldwide. It also describes what countries are doing to reduce this burden.

“Far too many people, their families, and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

“It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies.”

Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28% were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence; 21% due to digestive disorders; 19% due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders, and other health conditions.

Despite some positive global trends in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high, particularly in the European Region and the Region of Americas.

Globally an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders with the highest prevalence among men and women in the European region (14.8% and 3.5%) and the Region of Americas (11.5% and 5.1%). Alcohol-use disorders are more common in high-income countries.

An estimated 2.3 billion people are current drinkers. Alcohol is consumed by more than half of the population in three WHO regions – the Americas, Europe, and the Western Pacific.

Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world, even though its per capita consumption has decreased by more than 10% since 2010.

Current trends and projections point to an expected increase in global alcohol per capita consumption in the next 10 years, particularly in South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions and the Region of the Americas.