WHO sounds alarm on alcohol deaths

Alcohol kills 2.5 million people nearly 4 per cent of all deaths worldwide, the WHO said in its latest Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health.

Injuries in a drunken state, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and liver cirrhosis are the main causes of all alcohol-related deaths.

Globally, 6.2 per cent of all male deaths are related to alcohol compared with 1.1 per cent of female deaths, says the report.

The worldwide consumption in 2005 was equal to 6.13 litres of pure alcohol consumed per person aged 15 years or older. In India, 2.6 litres of pure alcohol was consumed per person aged 15 years and older from 2003-2005.

One in five men in Russia and neighbouring countries die due to alcohol-related causes. Globally, 320,000 young people aged 15-29 years die annually 9 per cent of all deaths in that age group, says the report.

"Despite widespread consumption, most people do not drink," finds the report. Almost half of all men and two-thirds of women did not consume alcohol in 2005, according to the latest information made available in the report.

Abstention rates are low in high-income, high-consumption countries, and higher in North African and South Asian countries. But those who do drink in countries with high abstention rates consume alcohol at high levels.

In India 79.2 per cent people are lifetime abstainers. 92 per cent are females and 67.2 per cent males.

The report says wider "implementation of policies is needed to save lives and reduce the impact of harmful alcohol drinking".

"Many countries recognise the serious public health problems caused by the harmful use of alcohol and have taken steps...but clearly much more needs to be done," said Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health.

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