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Alcohol kills around 2.5 million people every year: WHO report

Diseases and accidents caused by alcohol consumption account for about 4 per cent of all deaths in the world annually, according to latest report from the World Health Organisation.

Image: Johnny Green/PA Wire

THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION says that alcohol is a bigger killer than tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs, resulting in around 2.5 million deaths around the world annually – or 4 per cent of all deaths.

The WHO report says that alcohol is a causal factor “in more than 60 major types of diseases and injuries”, and alcohol consumption is particularly fatal for males aged 15-59.

Ireland’s drinking pattern was rated three out of five by the WHO. The higher the number on this scale, the greater the level of alcohol-attributable diseases in a country.

The report also says that between 2001 and 2005 there was no real change in the recorded quantity of alcohol consumed by adults (persons aged over 15 years). However, Ireland’s total per capita consumption between 2003 and 2005 was at 14.4, above the European Region average of 12.2.

Local brew

The report reveals geographical differences in alcohol consumption. Spirits are the most consumed form of alcohol in Asia and eastern Europe, while wine is the most popular in other European countries, as well as Chile and Argentina.

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Traditional differences in European drinking of northern Europeans preferring beer and southern Europeans choosing wine appear to have diminished, it reports. Globally, 36 per cent of total recorded alcohol consumption is beer, and 45 per cent is spirits.

In Ireland in 2005, beer was the most predominantly consumed form of alcohol at 53 per cent, while wine ranked second at 20 per cent of total alcohol consumed.

The World Health Assembley approved a resolution in May 2010 to endorse the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, WHO says, adding that it is clear that “much more needs to be accomplished” in forming policies towards such a reduction.

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