Study: Death rate from excessive drinking is high in this age group

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — It may not be uncommon to sip a glass of beer or wine without asking for more, but a new study indicates how important it is to pay attention to the amount of alcohol consumed.

A study published in the journal “JAMA Network Open” on Tuesday found that 1 in 5 people between the ages of 20 and 49 dies attributable to excessive drinking in the United States. For those aged 20 to 64, the drinking-related death rate is 1 in 8.

The percentage of alcohol-related deaths varies from state to state, but is a leading cause of preventable death, said Dr. Marisa Esser, lead author of the study, who oversees the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s alcohol program.

The researchers used national and state death data between 2015 and 2019 and looked at causes of death caused either wholly or partly from binge drinking. These causes of death include car accidents, alcohol poisoning and other health effects, such as liver disease, Esser said.

Esser added that the data showed that deaths entirely caused by alcohol had risen in the past 10 years.

“I’m not surprised by the numbers,” said David Jernigan, a professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University, who was not involved in the study. “This is a conservative estimate.”

Esser noted that there are deaths likely to be contributed by alcohol, but the researchers involved in the study did not include them in their estimates. Alcohol may be a contributing factor in some cases, but researchers have not been able to verify what role it plays. Esser added that in other cases, they were unable to determine if the person died as a result of a disease he was suffering from, and he usually used to drink excessively, and then quit.

Jernigan argued that people often do not report how much alcohol they consume.

How do you know you’ve used up too much?

Jernigan said the goal of states and local government agencies is to encourage everyone to drink less alcohol.

“States and societies can reduce these premature deaths by adopting evidence-based strategies to reduce the availability, accessibility and cost of alcohol,” Esser noted.

Acer added that this could translate into an increase in taxes on alcohol or a reduction in its sale.

On an individual level, Esser suggested people try to stop or reduce alcohol consumption.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Control (CDC) defines moderate drinking as two or less drinks per day for men, and one or fewer drinks per day for women. At the very least, two-thirds of adults reported consuming more than moderate amounts, the agency added.

The agency also estimates that 1 in 6 adults drink too much, meaning that on average a woman consumes four or more glasses of alcohol, and men five or more, with 25% of them consuming at least that amount per week.

Natalie McCurry, a registered dietitian in Charlotte, North Carolina, explained that drinking less may have the same effect as dieting, the more you stop yourself from it, the more you want it.

She recommends starting with one drink less than usual on each occasion, or breaking the daily habit by not drinking on specific days. And she had previously pointed out that it is possible to drink soft water or cocktails with a lower alcohol content.

It often helps to choose a non-alcoholic drink at social events, said biological psychologist Aaron White, the chief scientific advisor to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction.

Harvard Medical School in Boston suggests slowing down the body’s alcohol consumption by eating while drinking, replacing alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic beverages, and planning alcohol-free days.

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