June 25, 2009 -- Approximately 4% of global deaths may be linked to alcohol, according to a new study.
The study, published in The Lancet, estimates the percentage of alcohol-related deaths based on accidents, alcohol abuse, and various health conditions -- including certain cancers, high blood pressure, and liver problems -- in which alcohol may play a role.
The researchers -- who included Jurgen Rehm, PhD, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto -- analyzed 2003 data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations, and other sources.
When Rehm and colleagues calculated their estimates, they considered the health risks and benefits of alcohol, as well as alcohol consumption patterns, with the highest rate of alcohol consumption in Eastern Europe and Russia and the lowest rate in the eastern Mediterranean region, which mainly includes countries in the Middle East and northern Africa.
Rehm's team notes that alcohol-related deaths were most common in men and young adults, and that alcohol consumption is rising among women and in India and China.