#DoesItWorkSummary: Alcohol as a Cause of Death

By Atanas G. Atanasov

Background: This #DoesItWorkSummary is based on the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis published in The Lancet journal in September 2018 [1]. Alcohol has recognised negative impacts on health, being so far linked with the development of a range of major diseases, including hypertensive disease, hemorrhagic stroke, different kinds of cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver [2]. On the other side, there is research showing protective action of moderate alcohol intake in conditions such as ischaemic heart disease and diabetes [3,4]. To analyze the overall effects of alcohol on the total and disease-specific mortality a systematic review and meta-analysis was performed.

#DoesItWorkSummary Alcohol as a Cause of Death

Findings: Analyzed were 694 data sources involving a combined study population of 28 million people [1]. The data revealed that in 2016, 32.5% of the people in the world were alcohol drinkers (defined as people who reported alcohol consumption in the previous 12 months). Alcohol intake dose-dependently increased the total risk of death, with lowest risk observed in people who did not drink any alcohol. Moreover, alcohol use was ranked as the seventh leading cause for premature death in 2016. Analyzed were 23 different health-related outcomes, and for most of them alcohol dose-dependently increased the risk, with especially strong contribution to the development of tuberculosis (major cause of alcohol-related deaths in people aged 15–49 years) and cancer (major cause of alcohol-related deaths in people with age above 50 years). Moderate intake of alcohol decreased the risk for ischaemic heart disease, but high intake increased the risk for this disease. The protective effects of moderate drinking against ischaemic heart disease were offset by the increased risks associated with cancer and other disorders, due to which moderate and low intake of alcohol overall increase the total risk of death.


1          Griswold, M.G., Fullman, N., Hawley, C., Arian, N., Zimsen, S.R.M., Tymeson, H.D., Venkateswaran, V., Tapp, A.D., Forouzanfar, M.H., Salama, J.S., Abate, K.H., Abate, D., Abay, S.M., Abbafati, C., Abdulkader, R.S., Abebe, Z., Aboyans, V., Abrar, M.M., Acharya, P., Adetokunboh, O.O., Adhikari, T.B., Adsuar, J.C., Afarideh, M., Agardh, E.E., Agarwal, G., Aghayan, S.A., Agrawal, S., Ahmed, M.B., Akibu, M., Akinyemiju, T., Akseer, N., Asfoor, D.H. Al, Al-Aly, Z., Alahdab, F., Alam, K., Albujeer, A., Alene, K.A., Ali, R., Ali, S.D., Alijanzadeh, M., Aljunid, S.M., Alkerwi, A., Allebeck, P., Alvis-Guzman, N., Amare, A.T., Aminde, L.N., Ammar, W., Amoako, Y.A., Amul, G.G.H., Andrei, C.L., Angus, C., Ansha, M.G., Antonio, C.A.T., Aremu, O., Ärnlöv, J., Artaman, A., Aryal, K.K., Assadi, R., Ausloos, M., Avila-Burgos, L., Avokpaho, E.F., Awasthi, A., Ayele, H.T., Ayer, R., Ayuk, T.B., Azzopardi, P.S., Badali, H., Badawi, A., Banach, M., Barker-Collo, S.L., Barrero, L.H., Basaleem, H., Baye, E., Bazargan-Hejazi, S., Bedi, N., Béjot, Y., Belachew, A.B., Belay, S.A., Bennett, D.A., Bensenor, I.M., Bernabe, E., Bernstein, R.S., Beyene, A.S., Beyranvand, T., Bhaumik, S., Bhutta, Z.A., Biadgo, B., Bijani, A., Bililign, N., Birlik, S.M., Birungi, C., Bizuneh, H., Bjerregaard, P., Bjørge, T., Borges, G., Bosetti, C., Boufous, S., Bragazzi, N.L., et al. (2018) Alcohol Use and Burden for 195 Countries and Territories, 1990–2016: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet, 392, 1015–1035. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31310-2.

2          Rehm, J., Room, R., Graham, K., Monteiro, M., Gmel, G. and Sempos, C.T. (2003) The Relationship of Average Volume of Alcohol Consumption and Patterns of Drinking to Burden of Disease: An Overview. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 98, 1209–28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12930209.

3          Roerecke, M. and Rehm, J. (2014) Alcohol Consumption, Drinking Patterns, and Ischemic Heart Disease: A Narrative Review of Meta-Analyses and a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Heavy Drinking Occasions on Risk for Moderate Drinkers. BMC medicine, BioMed Central, 12, 182. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-014-0182-6.

4          Knott, C., Bell, S. and Britton, A. (2015) Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of More Than 1.9 Million Individuals From 38 Observational Studies. Diabetes care, American Diabetes Association, 38, 1804–12. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc15-0710.

Keywords: #DoesItWorkSummary, alcohol as a cause of death, tuberculosis, total and disease-specific mortality, ischaemic heart disease and diabetes, cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver, hypertensive disease, hemorrhagic stroke, impacts on health, systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Talantbek Batyraliev
Talantbek Batyraliev
5 years ago

[Clinical characteristics of the initial stage of alcoholic lesion of the heart in periodic and systematic forms of alcohol consumption] Article Jan 1988Kardiologiia G V GrudtsynA S SmetnevTalantbek Batyraliev[…]Anatoly Nikolaevich Samko Add full-text Add to project Add supplementary resources [Total and regional myocardial contractility of the right ventricle during a volumetric loading test in patients with an alcoholic heart lesion] Article Feb 1988Terapevticheskii arkhiv A S SmetnevTalantbek BatyralievAnatoly Nikolaevich Samko[…]G V Grudtsyn Add full-text Add to project Add supplementary resources [The contractile function of the myocardium in chronic alcoholism] Article Feb 1988Sovetskaia meditsina A P SavchenkoA S SmetnevTalantbek Batyraliev[…]I N… Read more »

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