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CDC: Alcohol-Related Deaths most Common in Working-Age Adults

Update Date: Mar 14, 2014 10:52 AM EDT
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A new government report examined the effects of excessive alcohol use on American society. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol intake continues to be responsible for many preventable deaths with the most vulnerable group being working-age adults.

"It's really important to drive home that excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death," lead author Katy Gonzales, alcohol epidemiologist at the Michigan Department of Community Health, said. "It really is right up there with tobacco and physical inactivity, especially among working-age adults."

In this federal report, the researchers examined alcohol-related deaths in 11 states. They reported that more than two-thirds of these preventable deaths linked to excessive drinking occurred in people between the ages of 20 and 64. From 2006 to 2010, alcohol was responsible for a median of 1,650 deaths per year. When the researchers examined the number of potential years of life lost, they found that in this time frame, alcohol was tied to a median of 43,000 years of life lost. 80 percent of those years of life lost due to alcohol were in the working-age adult group.

The 11 states examined in the study were California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The researchers used a computer model to calculate their findings. The model utilized a list of 54 alcohol-related complications that assessed how drinking was tied to these deaths. Alcohol-related deaths included car crashes, firearm injuries, drownings, hypothermia, and health ailments, such as liver disease, cancer, stroke, hypertension, pancreatitis and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Out of the 11 states, New Mexico had the highest death rate due to alcohol with the rate of about 51 deaths per 100,000 people. Utah, on the other hand, had the lowest rate at 22.4 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 residents. The researchers and experts stressed the importance of addressing alcoholism. By treating the illness more effectively, the number of alcohol-related deaths could fall.

"We don't seem to understand that addiction is a brain disease," President and CEO of High Watch Recovery Center, Janina Kean said according to Medical Xpress. "We don't blame people with diabetes or heart disease or cancer, but we seem to think people suffering from addiction have chosen to do what they do."

The report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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