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Alcohol Deaths

Man's hands holding cocktail glassDrinking too much can harm your health. One in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20–64 years are due to excessive alcohol use.

Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death. This dangerous behavior accounted for approximately 88,000 deaths per year from 2006–2010, and accounted for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20–64 years. Excessive alcohol use shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years. These deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease, and health effects from consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and motor vehicle crashes.

A study, published in Preventing Chronic Disease, found that nearly 70% of deaths due to excessive drinking involved working-age adults, and about 70% of the deaths involved males. The study also found that about 5% of the deaths involved people younger than age 21.

The impact of these deaths affects the nation's economy and the sustainability of families. Excessive drinking cost the United States about $224 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006, and about 40% of these costs were paid by government. Most of these costs were due to lost productivity, including reduced earnings among excessive drinkers as well as deaths due to excessive drinking among working age adults.

How Can You Prevent Excessive Alcohol Use and its Costs?

  • Choose not to drink too much and help others not do it.
  • If you drink, follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on moderate alcohol consumption (no more than one drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for males).
  • Support effective strategies for preventing excessive alcohol use, such as those recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force.

By not drinking too much and supporting community efforts to encourage others to not do so, you can reduce the risk of harm to yourself and others.

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