A Study of Alcohol Dependency and Mortality

A new study due to be released next year has analysed the links between alcohol dependency and mortality. Perhaps unsurprisingly the study found that those who suffered from alcoholism were more susceptable to disease and illness.Results of a study which is due to be published in February 2012 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research shows that alcohol worldwide causes as many as 5 percent of all fatal diseases. The study which was carried out in Tuscany has shown that that those who are alcohol dependant have a higher risk of terminal illness and  cancer mortality than those in the population who drink less or abstain completely.

Author of the study, Domenico Palli, head of the Nutritional and Molecular Epidemiology Unit at the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute (ISPO) in Florence said, "We conducted this study of mortality rates among this relatively large group of alcoholics because of our interest in better understanding the risk profile of alcoholism, the higher number of male alcoholics in our group reflects the distribution of alcohol consumption in the Italian population."

Emanuele Scafato, director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Research & Health Promotion on Alcohol and Alcohol-Related Problems at the Istituto Superiore di Sanit added, "There have been other studies of the relationship between alcohol and mortality but not with so many addicted people and particularly those with cancer, from an epidemiological point of view, this is a unique opportunity to examine health experiences and outcomes due to long-term hazardous and harmful consumption of a toxic and well-known carcinogenic that has resulted in alcohol dependence. This is relevant from a public-health perspective in order to formulate caution messages to the public to increase levels of awareness about the need for a healthier lifestyle and really moderate alcohol consumption."

Data from 2,272 alcoholics was collected for the study, they consisted of predominately middle-age men and women who had been in treatment for their addiction between 1985 and 2001. Findings were based on a number of criteria including age, gender and regional and calendar mortality rates.

Palli said, "Our study has provided strong evidence that alcohol addiction significantly increases the risk of death from several causes in comparison to the general population in a Mediterranean country, the alcoholics seemed to be at greater risk of mortality for specific diseases such as infections, diabetes, diseases of the immunological, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems, as well as violent causes. Alcohol's role as a 'dietary' carcinogen emerged quite clearly. The highest risks were found for cancers of the pharynx, oral cavity, liver, and larynx, but also the risk of other cancers - oesophagus, rectum, pancreas, female breast was increased."

Along with other studies it was also shown that female alcoholics appeared to display higher survival rates than males. Palli said, "Perhaps female alcoholics are more likely to obtain help and achieve remission, tend to benefit more than men from continued participation in treatment programs, and/or tend to be referred to specific alcohol centre earlier than men, who often are admitted with advanced disease or only when severe symptoms emerge,"

The message this study sends out is very clear, the less you drink the better and it is down to us all as individuals to take note of the new guidelines for safe drinking limits.

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