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      The Risks Associated With Alcohol Use and Alcoholism

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          Abstract

          Alcohol consumption, particularly heavier drinking, is an important risk factor for many health problems and, thus, is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. In fact, alcohol is a necessary underlying cause for more than 30 conditions and a contributing factor to many more. The most common disease categories that are entirely or partly caused by alcohol consumption include infectious diseases, cancer, diabetes, neuropsychiatric diseases (including alcohol use disorders), cardiovascular disease, liver and pancreas disease, and unintentional and intentional injury. Knowledge of these disease risks has helped in the development of low-risk drinking guidelines. In addition to these disease risks that affect the drinker, alcohol consumption also can affect the health of others and cause social harm both to the drinker and to others, adding to the overall cost associated with alcohol consumption. These findings underscore the need to develop effective prevention efforts to reduce the pain and suffering, and the associated costs, resulting from excessive alcohol use.

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          Most cited references51

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          The relationship of average volume of alcohol consumption and patterns of drinking to burden of disease: an overview.

          As part of a larger study to estimate the global burden of disease attributable to alcohol: to quantify the relationships between average volume of alcohol consumption, patterns of drinking and disease and injury outcomes, and to combine exposure and risk estimates to determine regional and global alcohol-attributable fractions (AAFs) for major disease and injury categories. DESIGN, METHODS, SETTING: Systematic literature reviews were used to select diseases related to alcohol consumption. Meta-analyses of the relationship between alcohol consumption and disease and multi-level analyses of aggregate data to fill alcohol-disease relationships not currently covered by individual-level data were used to determine the risk relationships between alcohol and disease. AAFs were estimated as a function of prevalence of exposure and relative risk, or from combining the aggregate multi-level analyses with prevalence data. Average volume of alcohol consumption was found to increase risk for the following major chronic diseases: mouth and oropharyngeal cancer; oesophageal cancer; liver cancer; breast cancer; unipolar major depression; epilepsy; alcohol use disorders; hypertensive disease; hemorrhagic stroke; and cirrhosis of the liver. Coronary heart disease (CHD), unintentional and intentional injuries were found to depend on patterns of drinking in addition to average volume of alcohol consumption. Most effects of alcohol on disease were detrimental, but for certain patterns of drinking, a beneficial influence on CHD, stroke and diabetes mellitus was observed. Alcohol is related to many major disease outcomes, mainly in a detrimental fashion. While average volume of consumption was related to all disease and injury categories under consideration, pattern of drinking was found to be an additional influencing factor for CHD and injury. The influence of patterns of drinking may be underestimated because pattern measures have not been included in many epidemiologic studies. Generalizability of the results is limited by methodological problems of the underlying studies used in the present analyses. Future studies need to address these methodological issues in order to obtain more accurate risk estimates.
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            Alcohol as a risk factor for liver cirrhosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

            Alcohol is an established risk factor for liver cirrhosis. It remains unclear, however, whether this relationship follows a continuous dose-response pattern or has a threshold. Also, the influences of sex and end-point (i.e. mortality vs. morbidity) on the association are not known. To address these questions and to provide a quantitative assessment of the association between alcohol intake and risk of liver cirrhosis, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort and case-control studies. Studies were identified by a literature search of Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsychINFO, ETOH and Google Scholar from January 1980 to January 2008 and by searching the references of retrieved articles. Studies were included if quantifiable information on risk and related confidence intervals with respect to at least three different levels of average alcohol intake were reported. Both categorical and continuous meta-analytic techniques were used to model the dose-response relationship. Seventeen studies met the inclusion criteria. We found some indications for threshold effects. Alcohol consumption had a significantly larger impact on mortality of liver cirrhosis compared with morbidity. Also, the same amount of average consumption was related to a higher risk of liver cirrhosis in women than in men. Overall, end-point was an important source of heterogeneity among study results. This result has important implications not only for studies in which the burden of disease attributable to alcohol consumption is estimated, but also for prevention.
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              Huge variation in Russian mortality rates 1984-94: artefact, alcohol, or what?

              According to published data, between 1984 and 1994 mortality rates in Russia initially underwent a rapid decline followed by an even steeper increase. In 1994, male life expectancy at birth was 57.6 years, having fallen by 6.2 years since 1990. There has been concern that such striking fluctuations in mortality are an artefact, although, among other factors, alcohol consumption has been implicated. We analysed the age-specific and cause-specific patterns of mortality decrease and increase by use of data from a newly reconstructed mortality series for Russia so that we could examine the plausibility of various explanations for the mortality trends. All major causes of death, with the exception of neoplasms, showed declines in mortality between 1984 and 1987 and increases between 1987 and 1994. In relative terms, these tended to be largest for the age-group 40-50 years; surprisingly, they were of the same magnitude among women and men. The largest declines and subsequent increases in proportional terms were observed for alcohol-related deaths and accidents and violence. However, pronounced effects were also seen for deaths from infections, circulatory disease, and respiratory disease. No substantial variations were seen for neoplasms. The stability of mortality from neoplasms in contrast to other causes over the period 1984-94 largely precludes the possibility that the changes in life expectancy are mainly an artefact, particularly one due to underestimation of the population. Although factors such as nutrition and health services may be involved, the evidence is that substantial changes in alcohol consumption over the period could plausibly explain the main features of the mortality fluctuations observed. These results provide a major challenge to public health in Russia and to our understanding of the determinants of alcohol consumption and its role in explaining mortality patterns within and between many other countries.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Alcohol Res Health
                Alcohol Res Health
                ARH
                Alcohol Research & Health
                National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
                1535-7414
                1930-0573
                2011
                : 34
                : 2
                : 135-143
                Author notes

                J ürgen R ehm, P h.D., is director of the Department of Social and Epidemiological Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and chair and professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, and is a section head at the Institute for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

                Article
                arh-34-2-135
                3307043
                22330211
                206c9010-04fb-4b6a-920d-11ba8b0c9c1e

                Unless otherwise noted in the text, all material appearing in this journal is in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission. Citation of the source is appreciated.

                Categories
                Articles

                alcohol and other drug (aod) use,alcohol use disorders,alcoholism,heavy drinking,aod induced risk,aod effects and consequences,health,disease cause,disease factor,disease risk and protective factors,burden of disease,health care costs,injury,social harm,drinking guidelines,prevention

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