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Alcohol Kills 88,000 Americans Per Year, Study Says

By Paul Gaita 03/18/14

Whether due to direct consumption or deterioration of health over time, alcohol contributes to more deaths than most illegal drugs.

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A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that approximately 88,000 people in the United States die from alcohol-related causes each year.

Researchers from the CDC and representatives from health departments in 11 states culled information from the Centers’ Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Database, which looks at 54 causes of disease and death that are connected to alcohol in some way. The causes range from diseases that are due wholly to alcohol consumption, such as alcohol poisoning and fetal alcohol syndrome, to those that may be partially due to alcohol-related issues, like stroke, liver cancer, and hypertension.

The data, which looked at cases of disease and death recorded between 2006 and 2010, found that senior citizens who were aged 65 and older had the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths, while men were twice as likely to die from alcohol-related causes as women. The study also showed that Native Americans and Alaska Natives suffered the greatest number of death rates among ethnic groups, while New Mexico was the state with the highest death rate among the 11 profiled by researchers, which included California, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. The state with the lowest rate was Utah, which saw only 22.4 deaths per 100,000 residents.

By comparison, death rates for other substances remain significant, if substantially less than alcohol-related fatalities. The CDC notes that 38,329 individuals died from drug overdoses in 2010, with 22,134 of those – about 60 percent - attributed to pharmaceuticals. Men were again twice as likely to die from a drug overdose than women, while Native Americans and Alaska Natives were the ethnic groups cited with the highest death rates.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has cited 3,038 deaths from heroin overdose in 2010, though that number has unquestionably skyrocketed in the last year with the rise of cheaper and more widely available heroin throughout the country. Marijuana continues to reside at the bottom of the drug-related death pack, having claimed exactly zero lives despite what some German scientists might think.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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