COLORADO SPRINGS – According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), millions of American adults drink alcohol each year.
Estimates of 2015 data indicate that more than 15 million American adults have an alcohol use disorder.
But according to a recent study, even casual drinkers are putting their long-term health at risk.
Jamile Wakim-Fleming, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said the research found that alcohol was a leading risk factor for both disease and premature death.
“They found that alcohol was the seventh leading cause of death among all nations, but even more alarming, is that it was the first leading cause of death of people between the ages of 15-49.”
The study looked at global data from hundreds of previous studies and found that for all ages, alcohol was associated with 2.8 million deaths each year.
Researchers found that alcohol-related cancer and heart disease, infectious diseases, intentional injury, traffic accidents and accidental injury were some of the leading causes of alcohol-related deaths.
Dr. Wakim-Fleming said people often believe that a little bit of alcohol, wine in particular, may be good for their heart, but the study results did not show any health benefit to drinking any amount of alcohol.
She said this information, along with previous research that has shown more young people are dying from alcohol-related liver disease, indicates that excessive drinking among young adults is a growing problem.
And like any substance-abuse problem, Dr. Wakim-Fleming said the damage to the body is cumulative.
“It’s a cumulative effect,” she said. “If you do it all at once, then you’re going to have effect now. If you drink on a regular basis, over years it’s going to be cumulative and you will end up with a problem later on.”
Dr. Wakim-Fleming said anything we do in life involves risk, but it’s important to know what the risks are so that we can make the best decisions for our health.
Complete results of the study can be found in The Lancet and from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism