Alcohol is known to have a variety of effects on the health of regular heavy drinkers. These effects include an increased risk of developing dementia, having a stroke, high blood pressure (which can lead to heart damage and heart attacks), several types of cancers, developing stomach ulcers, reducing fertility and an increased risk of depression.
The dangers of alcohol consumption are sometimes played down. The daily consumption of a relatively small amount of alcohol was considered to have health benefits according to certain studies. However, these findings are problematic for people that are at risk of developing an abuse of alcohol consumption.
In 2016, a large meta-analysis (a study that summarizes the results of other studies) was released, incorporating 592 different studies on the risk of alcohol abuse. Its main concern was to estimate the global burden of alcohol consumption. It addressed both the individual benefit of regular alcohol intake as well as the burden it places on society.
Surprisingly, this study concludes that “the level of consumption that minimizes health loss due to alcohol consumption is zero.”1 and that “previous assessments of the harm of alcohol have been potentially inaccurate”2. Furthermore, alcohol on a societal scale is outstandingly problematic. In Russia, for example, alcohol use is considered to be responsible for 75% of deaths amongst men aged between 15-55 years.
10% of global deaths of people aged 15-49 are due to the use of alcohol.1 The mentioned study shows that alcohol is amongst the risk factors of those in the mentioned age group and is the leading cause of individuals’ loss of valuable years due to ill-health, disabilities or early death.3
The study concludes that alcohol is a massive global health issue and that public health policies should address the problems associated with alcohol abuse.3
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