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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Facts of Alcohol

Alcohol remains as one of the largest killers worldwide and the statistics are staggering. The World Health Organization (WHO) today released new figures regarding the deadliness of alcohol, claiming that alcohol was the cause for just about 4% of, or 2.5 million deaths worldwide annually. People who drink heavily, generally do not lose their lives by drinking themselves to death, but, rather alcohol-related injuries like: road traffic accidents, burns, poisonings, falls and drownings make up more than a third of the disease burden linked to alcohol consumption. A close second to alcohol was AIDS with 2.1 million deaths in 2009. Alcohol policies worldwide are too lackadaisical, leaving room for people to consume about as much alcohol as they desire placing a heavy burden on society medically, socially, and financially.

It is not just alcohol companies and government lobbyist who are to blame, thirty percent of alcohol produced worldwide is made illegally and usually the ingredients are low quality and often extremely toxic. Our world has learned to revolve around alcohol production and consumption bringing billions of dollars annually from sales and advertising. The warning labels do not get the point across to younger generations and alcohol ads at sporting events send mixed messages to fans who want to be accepted by their peers. "The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world's leading risk factor for death among males aged 15-59. Worldwide, about 11% of drinkers have weekly heavy episodic drinking occasions, with men outnumbering women by four to one. Men consistently engage in hazardous drinking at much higher levels than women in all regions."

According to WHO, alcohol can be linked to 60 types of diseases and injuries, consumption has been tied to: cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence, and several types of cancer, including cancers of the colorectum, breast, larynx and liver. The study suggests that a solution to helping curb alcohol consumption would be to raise the price of all alcohol, much like American tobacco companies have done. In the United States, a 10% price increase reduced cigarette consumption about 4%, then to combat the tax increase, companies began raising prices. Philip Morris raised prices by at least 71 cents a pack and R.J. Reynolds did so by at least 42 cents; a subtle price increase may deter some consumers because they have become unaffordable.

Alcohol is extremely dangerous and highly addictive, dependence is more common than total abstinence it seems. Governments need to step up their game and work harder to combat lobbyists who pad the pockets of officials who rule against new taxes and price increases. At the end of the day the reason there is so much alcohol available is because it is so lucrative...

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