Survey of Mortality Data Shows Alcohol Use Drastically Reduces Lifespan
> 8/28/2007 10:58:10 AM

By examining the Multiple Causes of Death database, researchers identified the effect that heavy alcohol use has on longevity, pegging the amount of lost life as high as 25 years. More than two decades may seem like a lot, but breaking down the team's methods and exploring the results shows that heavy alcohol use did indeed lead to drastically reduced lifespan.

The MCD database allowed the researchers to separate information from over 14 million deaths into those whose histories included an ICD-diagnosis that indicated heavy alcohol use and those that didn't. After splitting the deaths into five categories contingent on the over-arching disorder that led to death and then putting each into a sub-category, the team was able to compare deaths that included alcohol usage to the mean within each category and sub-category. In explaining the results, Hsiao-ye Yi, Ph.D was quoted by Clinical Psychiatry News:

“The analysis of all deaths from major chronic diseases showed that heavy alcohol use is associated with a higher cumulative probability of death beginning as early as age 35,” Dr. Yi wrote. “The gap between heavy alcohol use and no heavy alcohol use in the cumulative probability of death from major chronic diseases becomes increasingly wider throughout life until around age 70.”

The average years of life lost due to heavy drinking varied by disease, ranging from 25 years for neuropsychiatric conditions to 7 years for malignant neoplasms, and was generally much greater in women than in men.

Dr. Yi also noted that while in general women had a lower probability of death than men, heavy alcohol abuse erased that benefit, in effect rendering female death probability on par with alcohol using men. This new interpretation of mortality data provides some excellent insight into just how damaging heavy alcohol use can be. Often, "functional" alcoholics won't seek treatment because they do not sense any negative effects from their drinking behaviors. Dr. Yi has provided quantifiable evidence as to just how damaging alcohol use is in the long term, even when the immediate health of a drinker seems to be in order.

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