wants action as alcohol kills 3.3 million people in 2012
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[May 12, 2014] By
— More than 3 million
people died from using alcohol in 2012, for reasons ranging from
cancer to violence, the World Health Organisation said on Monday, as
it called on governments to do more to limit the damage.
"More needs to be done to protect populations from
the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption," said Oleg
Chestnov, a WHO expert on chronic disease and mental health.
He added there was "no room for complacency", warning that drinking
too much kills more men then women, raises people's risk of
developing more than 200 diseases, and killed 3.3 million people in
On average, according to the WHO report, every person in the world
aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 liters of pure alcohol per year.
But less than half the population - 38.3 percent - drinks, so those
who do drink on average 17 liters of pure alcohol a year.
"We found that worldwide about 16 percent of drinkers engage in
heavy episodic drinking - often referred to as 'binge-drinking' -
which is the most harmful to health," said Shekhar Saxena, director
for mental health and substance abuse at the WHO.
Poorer people are generally more affected by the social and health
consequences of alcohol, he said: "They often lack quality health
care and are less protected by functional family or community
The global status report on alcohol and health covered 194 countries
and looked at alcohol consumption, its impact on public health and
It found that some countries are already strengthening measures to
protect people from harmful drinking. Those include increasing taxes
on alcohol, limiting its availability by raising age limits and
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More countries should take similar action, WHO said. More also
needed to be done to raise awareness of the damage alcohol can do to
people's health and screen for those who may need earlier
intervention to cut down or stop.
Globally, Europe consumes the most alcohol per person. Some of its
countries having particularly high rates of harmful drinking.
A study published earlier this year found that a quarter of all
Russian men die before they reach their mid-fifties, largely from
drinking to excess. Some men in that study reported drinking three
or more bottles of vodka a week.
The WHO said global trend analyses showed that drinking has been
stable over the last five years in Europe, Africa and the Americas.
But it is growing in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.
(Editing by Larry King)
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