High risk of death from vodka

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High vodka consumption in Russia shortens life expectancy

Vodka shortens the lives of many Russians. The excessive consumption of alcohol in the Russian population means that life expectancy for men in particular is drastically reduced. While in many Western European countries almost 90 percent of men reach the age of 55, in Russia it is only around 75 percent. A current study has examined the relationship between reduced life expectancy and men's vodka consumption.

The research team led by Professor David Zaridze from the Russian Cancer Research Center in Moscow reports in the specialist magazine "The Lancet" about a large-scale study with 151,000 participants, which examines the vodka consumption of the population and possible connections with life expectancy. "This large prospective study provides further evidence that vodka is one of the main causes of the high risk of premature death of Russian adults," write Zaridze and colleagues. The problem is well known, however, so far there have been no effective measures to curb alcohol consumption in Russia. Vodka is still part of everyday life here and is usually consumed from normal drinking glasses (0.2 liters).

Vodka consumption increases the risk of premature death. As part of their study, the Russian scientists carried out a separate evaluation for 57,361 male subjects, all of whom were smokers and had no previous illnesses. Zaridze and colleagues report that those who drank less than one bottle of vodka a week were around 16 percent more likely to die. For the test subjects who consumed vodka of one or two bottles a week, an early mortality risk of 20 percent had been determined, and if they consumed more than three bottles of vodka per week, this was 35 percent. Accordingly, alcohol consumption has a significant share in the low life expectancy of Russian men, of whom only around 25 percent still reach the age of 55 today. Their life expectancy is almost 65 years, which is alarmingly low in international comparison. In Germany, men are around 77 years old on average.

Countermeasures requested by politicians The figures show the extent of excessive vodka consumption in Russia, but the question remains of suitable countermeasures. Laws introduced so far have only had a limited impact here. Vodka continues to enjoy great popularity as a Russian national drink. Even the stricter alcohol controls implemented in 2006 were only able to produce a minor effect. The researchers therefore spoke in favor of a significantly more comprehensive package of measures and other restrictive approaches to reduce vodka consumption and thus significantly increase the life expectancy of the population. In Mikhail Gorbachev's time, alcohol consumption was reduced by 25 percent, but vodka consumption soared in the coming years. As a result, the deaths of young men rose again. Scientific studies have already pointed out the clear connections several times, whereby it is assumed that almost 50 percent of the deaths of men under the age of 55 could be related to excessive alcohol consumption. Politicians are now required to take countermeasures here. (fp)

Image: Jerzy Sawluk / pixelio.de

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