Excessive Alcohol Use Implicated in 1 in 8 Deaths in the United States

The main causes of alcohol-attributable deaths in the study were alcoholic liver disease, motor vehicle traffic accidents, and other poisonings.

In the United States (US), 1 in 8 deaths among adults aged 20 to 64 years can be attributed to excessive alcohol use, according to study results published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sourced data for the study from the National Vital Statistics System, WONDER, and Alcohol-Related Disease Impact databases. State and national mortality rates between 2015 and 2019 were evaluated for the alcohol-attributable fraction (AAF).

During the study period, there were 2,792,885 alcohol-attributable deaths, with the most common causes of being alcoholic liver disease (n=22,472), other poisonings (n=17,671), and motor vehicle traffic accidents (n=12,650).

Stratified by age, the rates per 100,000 were 29.4 for adults aged 20 to 34 years, 40.8 for those aged 35 to 49 years, and 70.8 for those aged 50 to 64 years.

These premature deaths could be reduced through increased implementation of evidence-based alcohol policies (eg, increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density), and alcohol screening and brief intervention.

Stratified by gender, 1,429,008 deaths occurred among men and 1,363,877 deaths occurred among women. The top 3 causes of alcohol-related deaths were the same for men as the entire study population; however, for women hypertension was the second leading cause of alcohol-related death and motor vehicle crashes was not among the top 3 causes.

Compared with all deaths, the AAF was 25.4% among adults aged 20 to 34 years, 17.5% for those aged 35 to 49 years, and 9.5% for those aged 50 to 64 years.

In individual states, the highest AAF of total deaths among 20- to 34-year-olds occurred in South Dakota (30.6%) and the lowest occurred in Utah (22.4%). For 35- to 49-year-olds and 50- to 64-year-olds, AAFs were highest in New Mexico (29.1% and 16.1%) and lowest in Mississippi (12.2% and 6.4%), respectively. In general, alcohol-related deaths were higher in the Western US and upper Midwest and lower in the Southeast.

The findings in this study may be underestimates, as alcohol involvement could only be identified for some conditions.

Study authors conclude, “The findings of this cross-sectional study suggest that an estimated 1 in 8 deaths among adults aged 20 to 64 years was attributable to excessive alcohol consumption, including 1 in 5 deaths among adults aged 20 to 49 years. These premature deaths could be reduced through increased implementation of evidence-based alcohol policies (eg, increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density), and alcohol screening and brief intervention.”

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor

References:

Esser MB, Leung G, Sherk A, et al. Estimated deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use among US adults aged 20 to 64 years, 2015 to 2019. JAMA Netw Open. Published online November 1, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.39485