Alcohol Lowers the Life Expectancy of Americans

Alcohol: Key Contributor in America’s Life Expectancy Decline

Alcohol causes life-threatening medical conditions, which in time leads to death. According to a recent BMJ research report, the life expectancy in the United States has decreased for the second consecutive year due to alcohol abuse, drugs, and suicides. 

The rate of life expectancy dropped significantly among Caucasian Americans in their middle age as well as those residing in rural areas, as stated by experts at the British Medical Journal (BMJ). 

The BMJ report strengthens the findings of another study released in December by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This study also highlighted the decline in the rate of life expectancy in the US for the second year in a row.

The life expectancy in the U.S. was 78.6 years in 2016, representing a drop of 0.1 year from the previous year. This data from CDC is based on statistics released by the World Bank.

The US had the longest life expectancy globally in 1960s. However, the life expectancy in other industrialized countries has improved since then and surpassed the US figures.

Reasons for the Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States

Now the life expectancy in America is 1.5 years less than any of the other countries that constitute the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This group includes nations such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, France, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Italy.  Even though many of these countries have weaker economies than America does, they now outrank the US in terms of life expectancy.

There has been a consistent increase in alcohol abuse related deaths in the US. Data indicates that excessive drinking among middle-aged people has quietly assumed epidemic proportions.

Alcohol abuse has particularly been a contributor to a reduced life expectancy among Caucasian Americans over the years. Drug abuse and suicides have also led to this situation, but alcohol poisoning, cirrhosis, and chronic liver diseases appear to be significant factors in the worsening death rates.

Princeton University economists, Angus Deaton and Anne Case, have discovered that the growing trend of drinking among people between the ages of 45 and 54 has caused an incremental 134 deaths for every 100,000 individuals between the years 1999 and 2013.

Demographic Trends in Alcohol Abuse

According to US dietary guidelines, moderate drinking has been defined as up to one drink daily for women and two drinks for men. However, data indicates that many Americans are finding it challenging to adhere to these recommendations.

As per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 80,000 individuals die from causes triggered by alcohol abuse every year. This makes alcohol the 4th leading reason for preventable deaths in the country.

Further, studies indicate that this trend is on the rise. A recently released CDC study highlights that death pertaining to the Caucasian population increased by 50% between the years 2005 and 2015 which is a cumulative increment of 28%. The causes of these deaths encompass alcohol poisoning, injuries, and chronic liver diseases amongst others. These rates of death are most pronounced within the Latino population, but the highest increase is within the white population.

A few other trends have been seen. A 2015 study shocked researchers when it highlighted that the most deaths occurring from alcohol poisoning happened within the middle-aged population, rather than college students as was believed previously. A large number of these deaths indicated that no other drug was involved.

A research report compiled from different counties by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, shows that although the overall percentage of the population consuming alcohol is relatively stable, but the people who drink increasingly tend to be heavy or binge alcohol consumers.

The researchers summarized that this trend is driven mainly by women. Data indicates that binge drinking has increased by 17.5% in women between the years 2005 and 2012. Binge drinking is defined as consuming a minimum of 4 drinks in a single drinking session like at dinner or social gathering, for at least one time in a month. Comparatively, the binge drinking rates for men has risen by 4.9% within the same duration.

Deaton and Case have provided some insights into the reasons behind this increase such as mental health problems, anxiety, and physical discomfort. They also found that these deaths are rising mainly in people with limited education, such as a high school diploma or less.

Alcohol Linked to Cancer

The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has stated in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that even moderate amounts of alcohol consumption in women can increase the risk of breast cancer and heighten the chances of esophageal cancer.

This select group of the country’s top physicians warns that heavy alcohol consumption is linked to mouth and throat cancer, liver cancer, voice box cancer, and even colorectal cancer.

Alcohol policy researcher at John Hopkins University, David Jernigan, feels that a public health strategy such as the one against tobacco use can also be effective in fighting this alcohol abuse epidemic.

Don’t Become a Statistic

Alcohol is shortening your life, even though you may not think so. Don’t allow it to end your life way too soon. Get the help you need now with your alcoholism with alcohol addiction treatment. We can help you get in control of your drinking, so you can start to live a longer, healthier life.