Health

Alcohol Bigger Killer than AIDS & Violence

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

It's no secret that alcohol can be very dangerous if used in excess, and now a new report proves just that -- it kills more people than AIDS or violence. The report from the World Health Organization said alcohol causes nearly 4% of all deaths worldwide.

Approximately 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol related causes, the WHO said in its Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, its first report on alcohol since 2004.

"The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world's leading risk factor for death among males aged 15-59," the report found.

Alcohol is a factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries, including cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence, and several types of cancer, including cancers of the colorectum, larynx and liver, and even breast cancer.

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"Six or seven years ago we didn't have strong evidence of a causal relationship between drinking and breast cancer. Now we do," Vladimir Poznyak, head of WHO's substance abuse unit who coordinated the report, told Reuters.

The report blames rising income levels for more drinking in heavily populated countries in Africa and Asia. However in many of those countries, alcohol control policies are weak and remain a low priority.

One of the most effective ways to curb drinking, especially among young people, is to raise taxes, the report said.

But beer giant SABMiller warned that higher taxes could lead to more harm than good, claiming it could cause more people to drink homemade or illegally produced alcohol, which can be very dangerous.