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Addiction. 2011 Mar;106 Suppl 1:11-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03326.x.

Epidemiology and alcohol policy in Europe.

Author information

1
Epidemiological Research Unit, Technische Universität Dresden, Klinische Psychologie and Psychotherapie, Dresden, Germany. mail: jtrehm@aol.com

Abstract

AIMS:

To describe three aspects of the epidemiology of alcohol-attributable deaths in Europe, dose, demography and place, and to illustrate how such knowledge can better be used to inform alcohol policy formulation and implementation.

DESIGN:

epidemiological and population health modeling.

SETTING:

Europe.

PARTICIPANTS:

Based on country-specific aggregate statistics.

MEASUREMENTS:

EXPOSURE:

country-specific adult per capita consumption triangulated with survey data; outcomes: mortality statistics.

FINDINGS:

The absolute risk of dying from an alcohol-attributable disease and injury (accounting for a protective effect for ischaemic diseases) increases with increasing daily alcohol consumption beyond 10 g alcohol per day, the first data point. Over 2/3 of all alcohol-attributable deaths occurring amongst the 20-64 year old population of the European Union (minus Cyprus and Malta) occur in the 45-64 year olds. About 25% of the difference in life expectancy between western and eastern Europe for men aged 20-64 years in 2002 can be attributed to alcohol, largely, but not exclusively, as a result of differences in heavy episodic drinking patterns.

CONCLUSIONS:

Any reduction in the dose of alcohol consumed, at least down to 10 g/day, will reduce the annual and lifetime risk of an alcohol-related death. There is a need for alcohol policy to focus on measures in reducing alcohol consumption, throughout middle age, with immediacy of impact. Policy should strive to reduce alcohol-related health inequalities, with the specific recommendations for policy depending on the cost-effectiveness of interventions related to the epidemiological profile of the country or region under consideration. Fortunately, there are evidence-based policy options that reduce the amount of alcohol consumed and many alcohol-related harms with immediate effect, that reduce the risk of an alcohol-related death in middle age, and that would help to close the health gap between eastern and western Europe.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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