Latest Insights in Gastroenterology

ALCOHOL USE

The following information is based on a recent article in The Lancet by MG Griswold et al. (2016). This study was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

1. Conventional wisdom is that a small amount of alcohol is beneficial but this study refutes that hypothesis. According to this article, the safest amount of alcohol to drink without any side effects is zero.

2. In 2016, about one-third of the earth's population drank alcohol (2.4 billion people).

3. In 2016, males overall consumed more than twice as many drinks per day as females.

4. Besides gender, alcohol consumption also seems to vary by country and culture. In terms of highest and lowest incidences as of 2016:

  • Denmark had the highest prevalence of current drinkers of any country for both males (97%) and females (95%).
  • Pakistan had the lowest prevalence of male drinkers (0.9%).
  • Bangladesh had the lowest prevalence of female drinkers (0.3%).
  • In the United States, alcohol consumption was prevalent for 73% of males and 60% of females in 2016.

5. As of 2016, 2.8 million deaths per year were caused by alcohol-related problems worldwide.

  • Alcohol accounted for 10% of global deaths among populations of age 15 - 49 years.
  • For populations aged 50 years and older, a large proportion of deaths involved alcohol-related cancers.
  • In the United States, alcohol-related diseases caused 6.7% of male deaths (71,000 males) and 2.3% of female deaths (19,000 females) in 2016.

6. To reiterate, the study by Griswold and colleagues from Seattle showed that even a single alcoholic drink per day increases the risk of developing alcohol-related health problems. And the quantity of alcohol consumed is related to the incidence of alcohol-related health problems in a linear fashion. In other words, your risk of developing alcohol-related health problems increases with every additional alcoholic drink. According to an editorial in Lancet by Dr. Robyn Burton of King's college in London, "Alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer."

7. For those who drink alcohol, there is a higher incidence of these cancers: Mouth, Throat, Larynx, Esophagus, Liver, Colon and Rectum, Breast, Pancreas, Stomach.

Just like good H. Pylori is dead H. Pylori, good alcohol is no alcohol.

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