A new study released by the World Health Organization has found that alcohol killed 3.3 million people worldwide in 2012. That’s equivalent to 5.9% of global deaths. That’s more than the statistics for AIDS, tuberculosis, and violence combined!
In comparison, HIV/AIDS is responsible for 2.8%, tuberculosis caused 1.7% of deaths and violence was responsible for just 0.9%, the study showed.
The number included drunken driving deaths, alcohol-induced violence and abuse, and a multitude of diseases and disorders. According to the WHO, alcohol causes one in 20 deaths globally every year.
According to Shekhar Saxena, head of the WHO’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse department, “This actually translates into one death every 10 seconds.”
Drinking is linked to more than 200 health conditions, including liver disease and some cancers. Alcohol abuse also makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases like tuberculosis, HIV, and pneumonia, according to the WHO report. Most deaths attributed to alcohol were caused by cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Alcohol-related accidents, such as car crashes, were the second-highest killer, accounting for around 17.1% of all alcohol-related deaths.
Countries like China and India have historically had a low rate of alcohol consumption. However, that seems to be changing as more people in those countries are taking up drinking as their wealth increases.
“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption,” Oleg Chestnov of the WHO’s Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health unit said in a statement.
The WHO warns that the average annual alcohol intake in China was likely to swell by 1.5 liters by 2025. Eastern Europe and Russia are home to the world’s heaviest consumers of alcohol. Russian men who drink alcohol consume an average of 32 liters per year, according to 2010 statistics, followed by other Western countries including Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia, and South Africa. On average, every person above the age of 15 drinks 6.2 liters of pure alcohol in a year, according to the report.