News / Health

WHO: 'Binge-Drinking' Most Harmful to Health

A man sleeps on the streets after drinking distilled traditional alcoholic liquor, locally known as
A man sleeps on the streets after drinking distilled traditional alcoholic liquor, locally known as "chang'aa", in the suburbs of Nairobi May 9, 2014
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization is urging nations to take action to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol, which it says is killing 3.3 million people each year.  

The WHO reports the harmful use of alcohol is responsible for six percent of all deaths around the world - that is one death every 10 seconds.  

Besides being addictive, the report says alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing more than 200 diseases, including liver cirrhosis and some cancers.  For the first time, the WHO says the harmful use of alcohol makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and HIV.  

WHO Mental Health and Substance Abuse Director Shekhar Saxena says the organization is concerned about drinking among young adults between ages 15 and 19, and particularly by heavy episodic drinking or “binge-drinking. ”

"The report concludes that worldwide 16 percent of drinkers over the age of 15 engage in binge-drinking, which is much more harmful than other kind of drinking ... which causes the most harm in terms of accidents, self-harm and harm to others ...  High income countries have the highest alcohol per capita consumption and also the highest prevalence of binge-drinking,”  said Saxena.
 
Prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among the total population aged 15 years and older and adolescents (15–19 years), 2010
Prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among the total population aged 15 years and older and adolescents (15–19 years), 2010


The report notes on average every person aged 15 or older drinks 6.2 liters of alcohol per year, but since less than 50 percent of the population drinks alcohol, those who do, consume on average 17 liters of pure alcohol a year.

The report warns drinking is increasing among women and this is of concern as they are more vulnerable to some alcohol-related health conditions than men.  The highest rates of mortality are found in Europe, followed by the West Pacific and then the Americas region.

Globally, the report finds Europe is the region with the highest alcohol consumption, particularly in Central and Eastern parts, followed by the Americas and Africa.  It says Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and some neighboring countries have very high levels of consumption and binge drinking.
 
Map shows prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among adolescents
Map shows prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among adolescents


Although less alcohol is consumed in Africa than in Europe, WHO Management of Substance Abuse Coordinator Vladimir Poznyak says the health impacts are worse in Africa than in Europe.  

“The difference is that in African region as well as in other countries with less resources, the consumption of alcohol brings more harm to health and to social relationship because of the absence of buffering factors, which are often like social support, like access to health care services.  This what is lacking,”  said Poznyak.

The World Health Organization is urging countries to strengthen measures to protect people from the harmful effects of alcohol abuse.  These include increasing taxes on alcohol, raising the drinking age limit, and regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More