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1 in 10 Deaths Among Adults Tied to Alcohol: CDC

Study also found those who died from drinking-related causes lost roughly 30 years of life
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- One in 10 deaths among U.S. adults is linked to excessive alcohol consumption, federal officials reported Thursday.

While people often link drinking with deaths from motor vehicle accidents and chronic liver disease, many other conditions that can cause death are tied to alcohol, said lead researcher Mandy Stahre.

"Excessive drinking is associated with a lot more causes of death than what we tend to focus on. Alcohol intake plays a role in at least 54 different conditions linked to death," said Stahre, an epidemiologist at the Washington state Department of Health who conducted the study while at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among them: acute pancreatitis, psychosis, esophageal cancer, breast cancer, oral cancer, falling injuries, suicide and drowning.

"Binge drinking is associated with 51 percent of all deaths due to excessive drinking," Stahre said. Binge drinking, for instance, "does not mix well with swimming or boating," she said.

For women, binge drinking is typically defined as four or more drinks in a sitting, Stahre said, while for men it's five or more.

The finding is published in the June issue of the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. While the study found an association between alcohol use and the deaths of many U.S. adults, it wasn't designed to prove that alcohol directly caused those deaths.

To arrive at the finding, researchers used a tool known as the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application to estimate which deaths were due to alcohol, and to look at how the numbers differed among states. The study estimated the number of deaths attributed to alcohol per year in the United States from 2006 through 2010.

Stahre's team also estimated years of potential life lost, finding that excessive drinking shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years. During the five-year study period, as many as 2.5 million potential years of living may have been cut short due to alcohol use, the study found.

Males were involved in most of the alcohol-related deaths -- 71 percent.

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