New study shows 1 in 25 deaths worldwide attributable to alcohol, but CAMH researcher sees glass as half full

    TORONTO, June 26 /CNW/ - Research from Canada's own Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health (CAMH) featured in this week's edition of The Lancet shows
that worldwide, 1 in 25 deaths are directly attributable to alcohol
consumption. This rise since 2000 is mainly due to increases in the number of
women drinking.
    CAMH's Dr Jurgen Rehm and his colleagues found that alcohol-attributable
disorders are among the most disabling disease categories within the global
burden of disease, especially for men. And in contrast to other traditional
risk factors for disease, the burden attributable to alcohol lies more with
younger people than with the older population.
    Dr. Rehm still takes an optimistic 'glass half full' response to this
large and increasing alcohol-attributable burden. "Today, we know more than
ever about which strategies can effectively and cost-effectively control
alcohol-related harms," Dr. Rehm said today. "Provided that our public policy
makers act on these practical strategies expeditiously, we could see an
enormous impact in reducing damage."
    The study showed that Europe had a high proportion of deaths related to
alcohol, with 1 in 10 deaths directly attributable (up to 15% in the former
Soviet Union). Average alcohol consumption in Europe in the adult population
is somewhat higher than in North America: 13 standard drinks per person per
week (1 standard drink = 13.6 grams of pure ethanol and corresponds to a can
of beer, one glass or wine and one shot of spirits) compared to North
America's 10 to 11 standard drinks. The recent Canadian consumption rate is
equivalent of almost 9 standard drinks per person per week age 15 plus, and
has been going up, as has high risk drinking. Globally, the average is around
7 standard drinks per person per week (despite the fact that most of the adult
population worldwide actually abstains from drinking alcohol).
    Most of the deaths caused by alcohol were through injuries, cancer,
cardiovascular disease, and liver cirrhosis.
    "Globally, the effect of alcohol on burden of disease is about the same
size as that of smoking in 2000, but it is relatively greatest in emerging
economies. Global consumption is increasing, especially in the most populous
countries of India and China."
    CAMH is known for its pioneering research in the most effective ways of
reducing the burden of alcohol. For example, CAMH endorsed the legislative
change implemented this year requiring young Ontario drivers to maintain a 0%
blood alcohol content; in many jurisdictions this measure has reduced
alcohol-related crashes and saved lives.
    Other evidence-based policies proven to reduce harms include better
controls on access to alcohol through pricing interventions and outlet density
restrictions as well as more focused strategies such as violence reduction
programs in licensed premises. Within health care, provision of screening and
brief interventions for high risk drinkers has enormous potential to reduce
the contribution of alcohol to the onset of cancer and other chronic diseases.
    "There are significant social, health and economic problems caused by
alcohol," said Gail Czukar, CAMH's executive vice-president, Policy, Education
and Health Promotion. "But research gives us sound, proven interventions that
governments and health providers can use to address these problems."

    The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's
leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH
combines clinical care, research, education, policy development, prevention
and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental
health and addiction issues.

For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview please contact Kirk
LeMessurier, CAMH Media Relations, at (416) 595-6015

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