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Alcoholism 'costs about 20 years of life'

The Local · 17 Oct 2012, 07:11

Published: 17 Oct 2012 07:11 GMT+02:00

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"None of the deceased alcoholics [we studied] reached the average age of 82 for women and 77 for men," said Ulrich John, an epidemiologist at the University of Greifswald who led the study.

The mean age at death for the alcohol-dependent group in the study was 60 for women and 58 for men.

International guidelines say women should limit their alcohol consumption to 12 grams per day – the amount in an eighth of a litre or a glass of wine, or a quarter of a litre of beer. The daily limit for men is twice as much.

"We were surprised that alcohol dependency appeared to be an especially big contributor to a shorter life compared to smoking," he added. This would seem to be largely because alcohol kills earlier than tobacco.

John said smokers were often well past the age of 60 by the time they died from cancers related to tobacco use.

The study, conducted by scientists from Greifswald, Berlin and Lübeck, followed nearly 150 alcoholics for 14 years. The researchers' results will be published in the January edition of the US journal "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research."

Work on the study began in 1996, when the researchers started collecting and analysing medical data on more than 4,000 randomly selected residents of Lübeck and 46 neighbouring communities.

The group of 119 men and 30 women identified as alcoholics were observed for more than a decade.

John said that although researchers did not investigate the causes of death, it was assumed that alcohol dependency was the "dominant ailment."

But scientists were unable to explain why women reacted more negatively to alcohol consumption than men - since, as John said, smaller body mass alone could not account for the trend.

Story continues below…

He also called for a new debate over alcohol prevention - labelling Germany a "high-consumption country."

DPA/The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:59 October 17, 2012 by puisoh
The prices of alcohol here is ridiculous .. Germany should learn to tax the vices and it will be a win-win situation. The alcoholics will be too drunk to protest anyway.
10:28 October 17, 2012 by William Thirteen
'although researchers did not investigate the causes of death, it was assumed that alcohol dependency was the dominant ailment.'

always good when researchers make assumptions. i am pretty good at making assumptions without bothering to confirm them - how do i get some of this grant money?
20:56 October 17, 2012 by parografik
I'm gonna assume the check is already in the mail for you.
08:02 November 18, 2012 by electric38
Usually, drinks are consumed at a 1 for 1 rate. Therefore a 200 lb. man, matching drinks with a 100 lb woman, will help explain why death (and lowered inhibitions) comes on earlier for women. Maybe the researchers could do a "blind" test based on weight only but, that would not match reality.

The loss of self esteem that may come from the "lowered inhibitions" aspect may also play into the death rate. It likely leads to a lifestyle that increases participation in other self destructive behaviors.
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