Alcohol Responsible For 5% Of Deaths Worldwide

By Beth Leipholtz 09/25/18

A new WHO report found that alcohol-related deaths continue to be a major issue, particularly among men.

man drinking a beer

More than 5% of worldwide deaths can be attributed to alcohol, according to a new report

The data was part of a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that is released every four years, according to the Guardian.

The report found that of the approximately 3 million alcohol-related deaths per year, about 2.3 million in 2016 were men. It also noted that nearly 29% of deaths caused by alcohol were the result of injuries, including driving incidents and suicides. 

A standout finding of the report was the toll that alcohol takes on younger generations. For example, the report found that 13.5% of deaths in those in their 20s were linked to alcohol somehow, while alcohol was held responsible for 7.2% of premature deaths in all. 

Despite the fact that worldwide alcohol-related deaths have decreased from 5.9% to 5.3% since 2012, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a WHO alcohol-control expert who was involved in the report, tells the Guardian that the results are not something to take lightly.

“Unfortunately, the implementation of the most effective policy options is lagging behind the magnitude of the problems,” he said. “Governments need to do more to meet the global targets and to reduce the burden of alcohol on societies; this is clear, and this action is either absent or not sufficient in most of the countries of the world.” 

Additionally, Poznyak added that the numbers in the report were likely an underestimate.

“Alcohol use starts in many countries well before [age] 15, so that is why we can say that our estimates are quite conservative, because we don’t count at all the impact of alcohol consumption on kids below 15,” he told the Guardian.

On a more positive note, the report also detailed the fact that in some regions, such as Europe and the Americas, the number of drinkers is decreasing.

In Europe, consumption per person has decreased from 10.9 liters of pure alcohol in 2012 to 9.6 in 2016. Even so, Europe remains the region where the most alcohol is consumed overall.

Rajiv Jalan, professor of hepatology at University College London, tells the Guardian that one of the main concerns in the UK is the age of consumption. The report found that 44% of 15 to 19-year-olds in the region are considered “active drinkers.”

Jalan added that it is very concerning that alcohol accounts for 10% of deaths in Europe. 

“The biggest problem that we have is that, certainly in Europe and if you focus more on the UK, there isn’t really a strategy which is all-encompassing in order to address this death rate. All the different elements that are known to work have not yet been implemented.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.