No amount of alcohol is safe for your overall health

Despite possible protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption on some conditions, a new analysis of 2016 global alcohol consumption and disease risk indicates that no amount of liquor, wine or beer that is safe for your overall health.

WebMD alcohol

Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss.

Alcohol risk factor

The analysis, published in The Lancet and entitled “Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016,” included a review of over 1,300 studies on alcohol use by country and the accompanying disease burden, measured by both deaths and disability-adjusted life years. The authors concluded “Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss. We found that the risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption, and the level of consumption that minimises health loss is zero.”

Specifically, alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide (accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths) in 2016, and for all ages was associated with 2.8 million deaths that year. Causes of death included alcohol-related cancer and cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, intentional injury such as violence and self-harm, and traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries such as drowning and fires.

WebMD alcohol-attributable deaths

China led the world in total number of alcohol-related deaths.

Alcohol consumption in China

China led the world in the total number of alcohol-attributable deaths in men and women, although this is not surprising given the country’s huge population. However, the rise of a drinking culture at Chinese social gatherings, along with increased disposable income among younger consumers, are set to drive the Chinese spirits market through a CAGR of 15% over 2016-21, according to a report by GlobalData. “In 2016, the Chinese spirits market held 32.8% of the global volume share and 52.3% of the Asia-Pacific regional volume share – and it is projected to reach 46.9% and 66.2% respectively by 2021. The volume of spirits consumption is expected to rise from 8.4 billion liters in 2016 to 16.9 billion liters in 2021.”

China’s younger consumer base and increasing number of female drinkers are expected to play a key role in the years to come for Chinese alcohol consumption. Per capita spirits consumption in the country was pegged at 7.3 liters in 2016, nearly a full liter over the global average of 6.4 liters and 6.2 liters in the Asia-Pacific region. China’s per capita spirits consumption is set to rise to 14.4 liters by 2021. The Lancet analysis defined a standard alcoholic drink as 10 grams or approximately 12 milliliters of alcohol.

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