March 4, 2013 (Toronto) – A
new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
shows that alcohol is now the third leading cause of the global burden of
disease and injury, despite the fact most adults worldwide abstain from drinking.
This research, part of the 2010
Global Burden of Disease study, was published in this month’s issue of the
journal Addiction. It also found that
Canadians drink more than 50 per cent above the global average.
“Alcohol consumption has
been found to cause more than 200 different diseases and injuries,” said Kevin
Shield, the lead author of the study. “These include not only well-known
outcomes of drinking such as liver cirrhosis or traffic accidents, but also
several types of cancer, such as female breast cancer.”
The study reports the amount
and patterns of alcohol consumption by country for 2005, and calculates estimates
for these figures for 2010. It reveals vast differences by geographical region
in the numbers of people who consume alcohol, the amount they drink, and general
patterns of drinking. Some other findings:
- Drinkers in Europe and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are the world’s
heaviest consumers of alcohol, on average.
- People in Eastern Europe and Southern Sub-Saharan Africa consumed alcohol in the unhealthiest manner, as they frequently consumed large quantities, drank to intoxication, engaged in prolonged binges, and consumed alcohol mainly outside of meals.
- People in North
Africa, the Middle East and South Asia
consumed the least amount of alcohol.
- North Americans
in general, and Canadians in particular drink more than 50 per cent above the
global average, and show a more detrimental drinking pattern than most EU
countries, with more bingeing.
The global burden of disease
and injury attributable to alcohol is large and growing. In 2010, it wasresponsible
for 5.5 per cent of this overall burden, third after high blood pressure and
tobacco smoking, among 67 risk factors overall.
This study summarizes the
results from population surveys, sales or production data, and data on alcohol consumption
not covered in official records, from all countries, territories and
“The amount of unrecorded
alcohol consumed is a particular problem, as its consumption is not impacted by public health alcohol
policies, such as taxation, which can moderate consumption,” said Dr. Jürgen
Rehm, a study author and director of CAMH’s Social and Epidemiological Research
“Improving alcohol control
policies presents one of the greatest opportunities to prevent much ofthe
health burden caused by alcohol consumption,” saidDr. Shield “To improve these policies, information on how
much alcohol people are consuming, and how people are consuming alcohol is
necessary, and that is exactly the information this article presents.”
Media contact: Michael Torres; (416) 595-6015;
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's
largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world's leading research centres in its field.
CAMH combines clinical care, research, education,
policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people
affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with
the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American
Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more
information, please visit www.camh.ca.
Shield K, Rylett M, Gmel Gs, Gmel G, Kehoe-Chan T, Rehm J. (2013).
Global alcohol exposure estimates by country,
territory and region for 2005 – a contribution to the Comparative Risk
Assessment for the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study. Addiction.