News / Health

    WHO: 'Binge-Drinking' Most Harmful to Health

    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
    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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora