A beer, a glass of wine or a cocktail may seem so ordinary that you don’t even think of pouring another, but a new study has suggested that it could be important for everyone to be aware of their alcohol consumption. .
It is estimated that one in five deaths of people between the ages of 20 and 49 was attributable to excessive alcohol consumption in the United States, according to the study published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open. For people aged 20 to 64, alcohol-related deaths accounted for 1 in 8, according to the study.
The percentage of deaths attributed to alcohol consumption varied from state to state, but nationally it is one of the leading causes of preventable death, said the lead author of the study, Dr. Marissa Esser, who directs the alcohol program at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers took national and state mortality data from 2015 to 2019 and looked at deaths wholly or partially attributable to heavy drinking. Those causes of death included traffic accidents, alcohol poisoning and other health effects, such as liver disease, Esser said.
The data showed that deaths entirely attributable to alcohol have increased over the past decade, Esser added.
“I’m not surprised by the numbers,” said David Jernigan, professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University. “This is a conservative estimate.”
Jernigan did not participate in the study.
Esser said there were deaths that alcohol likely contributed to that study researchers could not include in their estimates. Some conditions may have had alcohol as a factor, but researchers have not been able to ascertain with certainty the role played by alcohol consumption. In other cases, they weren’t able to determine if a person who died of an illness was drinking excessively but then quit, Esser added.
And people often underestimate how much alcohol they drink, Jernigan said.
“He’s not getting the attention he should be anywhere,” he said. “The bottom line is that (researchers) continue to show that heavy drinking is a big problem in the United States.”
For health and safety, Jernigan said the goal for state and local government agencies should be to encourage nearly everyone to drink less.
“States and communities can prevent these premature deaths by using evidence-based strategies to reduce the availability and accessibility of alcohol and increase its price,” Esser said.
That may mean raising alcohol taxes or limiting where alcohol is sold, Esser added.
At the individual level, Esser suggested that people might try to stop or limit alcohol consumption.
The CDC defines moderate drinking as two or fewer drinks per day for men or one drink or less per day for women. Two-thirds of adults say they drink more than moderate amounts at least once a month, the organization added.
The CDC also estimates that one in 6 adults binge drink – defined as drinking four or more drinks on one occasion for a woman or five or more drinks on one occasion for a man – with a quarter of those who do so at less once a week.
Reducing alcohol intake can have a similar effect to dieting — the more you tell yourself you can’t have, the more you want it, said Natalie Mokari, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charlotte, North Carolina.
She recommends starting with one less drink than you usually would on each occasion or breaking a daily habit by limiting drinking to certain days. You can also drink sparkling water in between glasses or make lighter-than-usual cocktails to cut down on your alcohol intake, she previously said.
And if you’re overcoming social pressure to drink, remember that people can make you feel bad because they’re uncomfortable with their own relationship with alcohol, said Annie Grace, author of “This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol” in a previous post.
It’s often helpful to have a soft drink on hand at social events so the offer for a drink doesn’t even come up, said biologist psychologist Aaron White, senior science adviser to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. .
Slow down your body’s alcohol consumption by eating while drinking, alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and planning alcohol-free days, suggests Harvard Medical School in Boston.
A tool on the CDC’s website can help individuals assess their drinking, then develop a plan to make healthier drinking choices.
If you need help or support right away, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a free, confidential, nationwide hotline that is active 24/7/365 to provide information and treatment referrals to facilities. local treatment providers, support groups and community organizations: 800-662-HELP (4357) and 800-487-4889 (TTY option).