IAS FACTSHEET – ALCOHOL AND HEALTH PAGE 1 OF 16
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In developed countries alcohol is one of the ten leading
causes of disease and injury. Worldwide, alcohol causes
3.27 per cent of deaths (1.8 million) and 4 per cent of
‘disability adjusted life years’ lost (DALYS) (58.3 million).
In developed countries, alcohol is responsible for 9.2 per
cent of the disease burden.
Alcohol causes nearly 10 percent of all ill-health
and premature deaths in Europe
The World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease
Study finds that alcohol is the third most important risk
factor, after smoking and raised blood pressure, for
European ill-health and premature death.1 Alcohol is more
important than high cholesterol levels and overweight,
three times more important than diabetes and five times
more important than asthma.
This level of alcohol-related death, disease and disability is much higher in men than women
and is highest in Europe and the Americas, where it ranges from 8%-18% for males and
2%-4% for females.
Beside the direct effects of intoxication and addiction, worldwide alcohol is estimated to
cause 20-30% of cancer of the oesophagus, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy,
homicide and motor vehicle accidents.
The more a country drinks, the greater the harm from alcohol
The European Comparative Alcohol Study, financed by the European Commission, finds that
as a country’s alcohol consumption goes up and down, the harm done by alcohol goes up
and down in parallel.2 This applies to all European countries. Further, the higher the alcohol
consumption of a country, the greater the harm from alcohol3. In Britain, deaths from liver
cirrhosis (largely caused by alcohol) increased steeply between 1987 and 2001. Cirrhosis
deaths in Scotland more than doubled, and are now among the hi