Alcohol Causes Most Deaths in Russian Adults Under 55

Discrepancy with western Europe death rates explained by drinking and smoking

FRIDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- In many years, alcohol causes more than half of all deaths in the 15 to 54 years age group in Russia, and together with smoking accounts for the large discrepancy in adult mortality between western European countries and Russia, according to a study in the June 27 The Lancet, which has a special focus on alcohol.

David Zaridze, M.D., of the Russian Cancer Research Centre in Moscow, and colleagues conducted a study of 60,416 inhabitants of three Russian industrial cities who had died between 1990 and 2001 at ages 15 to 74 years. Family members of 50,066 of the decedents were visited, and 48,557 gave information on the decedents' past alcohol use, as well as potentially confounding factors.

The sample comprised 43,082 cases with an alcohol- or tobacco-related cause of death. In men, accidents and violence (relative risk, 5.94 in the highest consumption category), alcohol poisoning (relative risk, 21.68), and acute ischemic heart disease other than myocardial infarction (relative risk, 3.04) were the three most common forms of alcohol-associated deaths, the researchers found. After correcting for reporting errors, they found that alcohol-associated excesses accounted for 59 percent of deaths among men ages 15 to 54, 33 percent of deaths among women in that age group, and 52 percent of deaths among both sexes.

"Alcohol-attributable mortality varies by year; in several recent years, alcohol was a cause of more than half of all Russian deaths at ages 15 to 54 years. Alcohol accounts for most of the large fluctuations in Russian mortality, and alcohol and tobacco account for the large difference in adult mortality between Russia and western Europe," the authors conclude.

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