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CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking 454

Posted by Soulskill
from the america's-real-national-pastime dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to new research from the CDC, 9.8% of deaths in working-age adults (22-64 years old) in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010 were "attributable to excessive drinking." This makes excessive drinking the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. The study included deaths from medical conditions, such as liver disease and alcohol-induced strokes, as well as deaths from alcohol-related events, like car accidents, homicides, and fall injuries. However, it did not account for cases where excessive alcohol consumption was a factor in contracting conditions like AIDS, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, so the count may actually be higher. Many western states with low population spread out over a large area showed the highest alcohol-related death rates, while states from the east coast and the midwest tended to be on the lower end of the spectrum. The study also tracked years of life lost, which is higher for alcohol-related deaths than for most other types of death. Researcher Robert Brewer said, "One of the issues with alcohol that is particularly tragic is the extent to which it gets people in the prime of their lives."
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CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @09:58AM (#47332801)

    Guess we better reinstate prohibition. Oh and it must cause health problems, so it needs banning like soda too. Oh yeah, lets not forget "for the children"

    • by thaylin (555395)
      Well to be fair, and I am 100% pro gun, that is a false equivalency. Typically those killed by guns are not the gun owner itself, where as those killed by alcohol, soda and the like is are the drinkers themselves.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        False. The majority of gun deaths in the US are suicide [pewresearch.org]. Didn't you know that? Seriously?

      • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:18AM (#47333003) Homepage Journal

        Whoa. Hold your horses there pal. They are most likely to be the gun owner(and their immediate family). It gets pretty extreme in some specific measurable cases. People like to frame it in terms of murder, since that appeals to more peoples' moral systems more directly. But suicide is the single biggest measurable concern vis-a-vis firearms.

        For example: for the first year after purchasing your first handgun, that's the single most likely cause of death in your life, approaching almost 50% of deaths.

        I feel like it would be extraordinarily intellectually dishonest of me to accept handguns as public health issue, and not alcohol. They are both serious concerns and need to be acknowledged as they are, not stewed in pots of rhetoric.

        • Are there major healthcare costs associated with suicide by handgun? If someone wants to kill themselves, how is it society's concern?
          • Because people have responsibilities. Or do you think that orphans never happen from suicides? Or that there isn't also a risk to others in that household? I mean, come on.

            We don't live in the disconnected libertarian fantasy land, where no one affects anyone else.

          • by Bengie (1121981)
            It costs society A LOT of directly money plus opportunity costs for each child that reaches adulthood, and it takes a long time for that adult to pay back their debt to society.

            Children are a drain on society, they cost parents money and the contribute no immediately value. They're an investment. It's like putting money into the stock market, then all of it disappears. It would be nice to at least get back the initial investment.
            • So, are you claiming that an individual 'owes' society a certain debt? Are we keeping track of that? Is there a countdown to when ending my life is my own business? About what age are you going to actually become 'your own man'? If I cure a disease, can I kill myself right after? If I'm never a net contribution to society, am I perpetually in debt and thus never able to commit suicide, or am I never getting out of that hole, and thus free to kill myself at any time?
        • by Dan East (318230) on Friday June 27, 2014 @11:03AM (#47333511) Homepage Journal

          For example: for the first year after purchasing your first handgun, that's the single most likely cause of death in your life, approaching almost 50% of deaths.

          ...which indicates that the gun was bought specifically for that purpose in those 50% of handgun suicide deaths. It wasn't the other way around - people didn't die because they happened to have bought a handgun, which is the way you phrased it. They wanted to die, so they bought a handgun. I've owned my handgun for over 20 years, and I've not wanted to die, hence I'm not dead by it.

        • by Firethorn (177587)

          For example: for the first year after purchasing your first handgun, that's the single most likely cause of death in your life, approaching almost 50% of deaths.

          Wouldn't that be the cart leading the horse? If you're committing suicide with a gun in 'under a year' my first thought is that there's a very good chance you bought the gun specifically contemplating suicide.

          The suicide problem is huge, and we're not actually losing all that many young adults to anything else. Disease is down, car fatalities are down, other accidental deaths are down, etc...

          I feel like it would be extraordinarily intellectually dishonest of me to accept handguns as public health issue, and not alcohol. They are both serious concerns and need to be acknowledged as they are, not stewed in pots of rhetoric.

          I agree. Heck, my proposals of fixing schools and our mental healthcare system would actually address suicide as w

      • Typically those killed by guns are not the gun owner itself, where as those killed by alcohol, soda and the like is are the drinkers themselves.

        First off, the clear majority of deaths by firearms in the US are suicides. The CDC statistics on this are unambiguous. While not every suicide by gun is by the gun owner a large percentage of these suicides are by the person who owns the gun. Furthermore a death by firearm is still a death by firearm. Does it really matter who the gun owner is? If someone else drives a car and kills someone with it, it isn't really very important that the driver wasn't the owner. Same with a firearm. Someone is dead

    • by Jack9 (11421)

      Reducing alcohol-related (or soda-related) deaths simply spreads certain death among other factors. Some other cause will take it's place as the 4th leader. What's the point? Trying to get accidents and natural causes to the top, doesn't seem like a worthy goal for humanity, to me.

  • I'll.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Danzigism (881294) on Friday June 27, 2014 @09:59AM (#47332821)
    Drink to that.
  • So What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:02AM (#47332849)

    I don't care if you drink yourself to an early grave.
    I don't care if you smoke yourself to an early grave.
    I don't care if you eat yourself to an early grave.

    This is all about more gov control, taxes, regulation to protect us from ourselves.

    • I'm not sure why your lack of concern of serious public health issues matters more than anyone elses' concern. If premature deaths actually just affected the person responsible, it would be a more tacitly agreeable position. But the reality we face is one where people depend on each other, drunk drivers kill other people, and many people aren't fully aware of the consequences.

      Those are all reasons to be interested in alcohol at a policy level. Outright prohibition has problems that are pretty well unders

      • also, when people die preventable deaths we all pay a lot of money. think of the costs of liver transplants. you think that wino is paying out of pocket for it? no, it's either coming from his insurance or a public program, and in either case the cost is spread over the rest of us. multiply by a million. also, note that the summary says that alcohol is the leading cause of death for people in the prime of their lives. you know what I call them? breadwinners. and when the breadwinner dies who do you think pa
        • Let's just make the libertarian case against this argument, because I believe I can do so, and deconstruct it without resorting to a strawman.

          The argument is that people should be made to be more of economic islands, by never taking care of anyone for them. That is to say, let them die without that liver unless they pay for it.

          The problem with this idea is that this kind of lack of empathy for others' suffering isn't natural any more than the communist ideal of no greed is natural.

          • Fuck empathy. If you want to be an island, you have to buy your way out. Otherwise, I'm going to take reasonable measures to save your life, because I'm not a monster. And if you're going to put me on the hook for your well being, you better not waste my money.
          • I'll drink to that!

  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:02AM (#47332853)

    It works so well with currently illegal drugs.

    • and yet, zero deaths due to 'overdosing' (impossible in practical terms) from taking teh pot (sic).

      one is still (federally) illegal and the other advertises freely on print and broadcast media.

      I often wonder if we are living in opposite-land, given that our logic is in reverse.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by retchdog (1319261)

        a lot of the alcohol deaths were due to impairment, not outright overdose. as pot becomes more overt, these numbers will increase too, as they already have in Colorado.

        i do agree with your point, and i'm quite sure that pot is still notably safer, but we'll be seeing more and more articles like this on cannabis.

        • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:19AM (#47333021)

          the articles on pot will be biased beyond all belief. the US won't admit that they were wrong, all along. never admit you were wrong: that's the government's motto. plus, there is too much money involved in arresting people, jailing them (for-profit jails!) and stealing their assets in immoral property grabs.

          there will be more car crashes due to mothers yelling at their kids in the back seat, cell phone use and inattentive drivers (not stoned) than pot users, but I do expect lots of SPIN trying to convince us of how evil the devil weed is.

          just don't believe it. its all lies.

          • by retchdog (1319261)

            well, yeah, i agree with you, i'm just commenting that this is going to happen.

            and it's not all lies. that's the definition of spin: it's a careful 'interpretation' of truth. the lack of a fast objective test for marijuana impairment is a real problem, as is the synergistic effect of pot and alcohol (anecdote: the one and only time i ever blacked out was the one and only time i mixed (relatively modest) amounts of the two).

            these problems don't justify criminalization in and of themselves (imho), but it's no

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              the lack of a fast objective test for marijuana impairment is a real problem

              No, it isn't. The fast objective test for marijuana impairment is the same as the fast objective test for alcohol impairment. What the cops are moaning about is the lack of a fast objective test for marijuana (Well, THC) levels, which is completely irrelevant because there is no evidence whatsoever either that marijuana impairs driving ability (many drivers actually tested better under the influence) nor as a result is there any amount in your system which can be considered an unsafe driving threshold. So i

          • there will be more car crashes due to mothers yelling at their kids in the back seat, cell phone use and inattentive drivers (not stoned) than pot users, but I do expect lots of SPIN trying to convince us of how evil the devil weed is.

            just don't believe it. its all lies.

            studies have shown that mothers with children in the car are the safest drivers, because they drive conservatively and are very aware of surroundings. try again.

        • Have they? The only thing I'm aware of happening on a big scale are newbies eating large amounts of edibles not realizing their potency and then losing control. Basically a matter of not having a proper dosage and labeling system.
          • I believe edibles and "concentrate" like wax and honey oil are a totally different ball park. They will certainly fuck you up way past functional with very little (with strong edibles)

          • by retchdog (1319261)

            http://www.nbcnews.com/health/... [nbcnews.com]

            admittedly, it's retrospective (they are finding more marijuana metabolites in dead drivers than before), but Bayes' formula suggests validity of the inference. p(pot|dead)=p(dead|pot)*p(pot)/p(dead). legalization will definitely increase p(pot), and it might decrease p(dead|pot) in the long run as people and social norms adapt. but as you said, there are a lot of newbs out for now.

            part of the problem is that marijuana intoxication is harder to screen for; this is a good thi

            • Another thing that makes getting accurate numbers harder is that marijuana metabolites stay in the system much longer. With current methods, it's not an indication of being stoned when they wrecked so much as it an indication that they've been stoned within a week.
      • Not to worry, we're going to see the downsides of freely available marijuana in the near term. Hint: concentrating the very potent strains available today (for example, brownies, hash oil or whatever the hell they're calling it these days) can induce a psychosis in some folks. Psychotic folks do dangerous / stupid things.

        Is it anywhere near the extent of alcohol related harms? Nope. But don't pretend that ANY drug is harmless.

        "Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison.
        The dosage makes it

    • It's part of the fascination with alcohol that the US has. It's a very adult thing--so adult you have to be 21 to do it. We don't drink because the booze is good; we drink because boooooooooze and drooooooonk so cool!!!!

      Pennsylvania did a study to show that European-style alcohol legislation increases alcoholism. You're an alcoholic if you have 2 drinks in 1 day more than once a week, by the way. In Europe, where 16 year olds can buy beer and parents can order alcohol for their 14 year olds, everyone

  • by XanC (644172) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:04AM (#47332873)

    1 in 10 deaths, huh? That's a bold statement considering the huge qualifications on it:
    * 22-64 years old
    * preventable

    So the actual number is much less than 1 in 10, not much more as the summary says.

    • by pr0fessor (1940368) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:36AM (#47333189)

      I once told a professor that he should change the title of his statistics course to "lying with numbers made fun".

      Often times people will cut down a sample or leave out important information in a summary just to promote a point, it's disingenuous.

      • by Yakasha (42321)
        What do Law, Statistics, and Amelia Badelia all have in common?
        lack of context.
      • 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics'

        Mark Twain (or Benjamin Disraeli or somebody else)

      • It is all about the details and perspective really. It is usually really hard for people to understand what is going on behind the numbers as opposed to simply taking the values at face value. There is always the cause VS causality issue as well.

        Didn't read the actual article (bc frankly I don't care that much), but I did read the abstract. My thoughts are this: So those deaths that were found to be attributable to alcohol, most of them are not "direct" but rather "attributed". So technically the alcohol di

    • This is not so surprising. In his book Freakonomics, Stephen Levitt used econometric techniques (statistics for economists) to show that the most dangerous mode of transportation was not flying, driving, or riding a bicycle, it was walking while drunk.

      Fact is, drunk people tend to do stupid things, like walking out in the middle of the road without looking.

      Why is it 1 in 10? Well, accidental death in 22-64 year olds is not particularly common. And natural causes, even less so.

  • Self Medication (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:06AM (#47332897)

    Having had an alcoholic step dad and grandfather I can say there's many reasons that people drink. Mostly it's one because they want to and if they don't have alcohol they'll use something else smoking, drugs whatever may be available. Alcohol allows people to self medicate and avoid things in life or help to forget things in life, like the fact that their lives didn't turn out as planned. For others it's just an activity because others are doing it around them and they can't stop because they get addicted to it.

    • Antidepressants bother me also, sure there may be times when they are useful for reasons that make sense. If your wife cheats on you with your best friend and then takes the car and the house in the divorce... chances are pills won't help.

    • Re:Self Medication (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:56AM (#47333425) Journal

      Self-medication with alcohol can be useful, though. I found out a long while back that consuming 1 ounce of liquor (rum, whiskey, brandy) every 2-3 days fixed my clinical depression. I took to occasionally sipping a shot of whiskey out of a sniffer over 3-4 hours, or drinking a beer or two now and then. Didn't need to booze out on it, and it really did last days.

      The baseline behavior was a severe downward spiral of emotion in reaction to any negative emotion stemming from a failed expectation or a trivial mistake. The corrected behavior was minor upset bounded to the degree of the original stimulus, with no avalanche effect. I decided 2-3 beers a week was probably safer than Zoloft or such, so did that for a while.

  • From the text: "And those premature deaths cost the United States $224 billion a year, the report found, or $1.90 a drink."
    • Look, if you genuinely believe, as our society tacitly does, that free market economics works, it's implicitly the case that you can put a number on a human life.

      We're extremely averse to doing that in verbal speech, but in terms of how we design our economy to work, it's implicitly assumed people are doing that constantly. I'm not even trying to condemn that fact, just suggest it should be acknowledged as a reality of how we conduct ourselves.

      • I think we should put numbers on human lives more often, by averting our eyes to it we look away from the human cost of financial crimes and inequities.

        For example the average American will generate 2-4 million in their lifetime and will get to keep about half of it (before they pay taxes on that half). Keep that in mind.

        • Generates, or receives as income?

          Capitalism is an inefficient system. It costs a hell of a lot, and affords greater mobility than other systems. Rich economies can handle that, while poorer economies are better off with feudalism.

          In feudalism, serfs retain 25%-70% of their productive output--a large variation over history and geography. Barons provide protection for the serfs, as well as other meaningful services; in modern times, a barony would likely include medical research and treatment, so as to

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        The free market has nothing to do with it - any society which institutes non-free policies to preserve life has to face the fact that the things you can do to reduce non-age related deaths greatly outstrip your ability to fund them. Faced with that fact you really have no option but to assign a dollar value to a life if you want to make rational policy decisions.

        • Not to get too deep into alternate economic philosophies that are not my own, but not all systems actually use pricing as a tool. Sure, there are still resources, and they're still expended, but those aren't necessarily quantified in the same manner.

      • My calculations place the value of a human life at roughly 14% of all personal income in the economy. That's the bottom of the optimal range for UBI, which eliminates poverty while standing up to (and lessening the impact of) economic downturns and not causing hyperinflation. The optimal range appears to be 14%-15%, and I usually call the 15% number for simplicity. The viable range seems to be 11%-20%, but I'm uncertain of that--less certain about the higher end, particularly. Too high causes irreparabl

  • by epine (68316) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:18AM (#47333011)

    CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

    This does not deserve to live on Oprah, much less Slashdot. Not on Fox News, not on Rush Limbaugh, not on Howard Stern, not on Jerry Springer. On its own, exactly as it stands, it would set a new standard for outright stupidity in any legal jurisdiction that has yet to legislate pi = 3.

    Oh, but wait, there's a footnote: preventable deaths among working-aged adult Americans. THAT'S NOT FUCKING FINE PRINT. My credibility circuit assigned six zeros (0.00000% chance of being true) before I managed to read the next line.

    In all the many long years I've been here, I can not recall a single story headline that revolts me to this degree. I was reading recently Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics by Michael Ignatieff. At some point during his election campaign he said something stupid about the Middle East. His campaign manager pulled him aside and explained to him: "Politicians have nine lives. You just burned eight."

    I have a finite amount of all-caps to expend on Slashdot outrage. I just burned 80% of my lifetime supply. Next time I resort to all-caps, I'll never post here again.

    • by Dan East (318230)

      I just burned 80% of my lifetime supply

      8 of 9 lives is 0.8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888889% Just sensing the irony as you complained about rounding pi down to 3.

  • The headline implies that alcohol is the sole killer of 1 in 10 adult deaths, but that's just not true. It's 1 in 10 preventable deaths, which is a subset of all deaths that occur. In reality, alcohol probably accounts for 10% of all adult deaths.

    Also, they tracked things like car accidents and homicides, which are not deaths caused by alcohol - they're deaths caused by the laws of physics. The only real deaths that can be directly attributed to alcohol are things like alcohol poisoning, cirrhosis of the li

  • Dying of AIDS-related illness is a pretty big stretch. So, you get drunk, have unprotected sex and contract HIV, which attacks your immune system, and you die of an opportunistic virus. That seems to have enough factors involved that putting it on alcohol is an enormous stretch.
  • Would deaths of working-age adults go UP (particularly suicides) if they weren't drinking all the time?

  • There is no such thing as a "preventable death", at least until we develop some form of immortality. It can only be delayed or accelerated, and the cause can be shifted. Everyone is going to die at some point in time.

    • Sure there is - for example, you can prevent death from being in an airplane crash by never boarding a plane. That risk is eliminated, not "delayed or accelerated". Smoking-related diseases can be prevented by not smoking, and avoiding exposure to smoke. In the same manner alcohol-related deaths can be prevented by not consuming alcohol.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:35AM (#47333175) Homepage
    The high mortality rate due to drinking amongst slashdotters can be directly attributed to physical and emotional abuse. Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP have ushered millions of nerds into an early grave from alcohol poisoning alone. the longterm effects of say, A peoplesoft migration however are much more destructive as theyre often worsened by the invisible culprit of change management. Taking a look at the youth of today, gateways like SCRUM and devops mean that not only are our future hackers drinking more at an early age, theyre forced to undergo gruelling "stand up" meetings that require then to concentrate all their effort into their creamy, underdeveloped legs to keep them aloft. the agony of being away from their natural habitat, the herman miller chair, coupled with the verbal and emotional abuse from phrases like swim-lanes and synergy amount to nothing short of an epidemic in IT.

    but you can take action to stop this. IT workers thrive in an environment of nerf, far away from their natural predator the project manager. warmed slices of pizza pie and refreshing caffeinated nectars are what can keep this endangered species of young codelings healthy and free from substance abuse. The presence of the rare git-push neckbeard, or in some collectives a majestic greyhair vax longbeard have confirmed that excessive drinking is in fact no longer a problem in many dimly lit, cool climate colonies.
  • by SaroDarksbane (1784314) on Friday June 27, 2014 @10:37AM (#47333213)
    But how many births are caused by excessive drinking?
  • Dear Government,
              Thank you for informing us. I'm glad you're doing research and informing the public. That's your job. Now please go the hell away. You have an unfortunate tendency to find data like this and then use it to try and control my life. If I chose to drink despite this warning, that's my choice.


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  • Please, stop calling everything that's unhappy a "TRAGEDY". Do you even know what the word means?

    Don't want to die of this? Stop drinking. Not rocket science.

    For the majority of cases, obesity is not a tragedy, neither are drug-use deaths, nor AIDS-related deaths nor is DRINKING YOURSELF TO DEATH.

    All of them are 95% or more self-inflicted. Pathetic? Yes. Sad? Yes, probably, at the very least on a personal level. But tragic? No. Tragedy implies some sort of impersonal force, or a fate one can't fight

  • alcohol-related events, like car accidents

    That's self-contradictory. Here's a quote [citylab.com] from the New York Police Department:

    "There's no criminality," an NYPD spokesman told Metro. "That's why they call it an accident."

    An alcohol-related car crash involves criminality and therefore cannot be an accident, logically speaking, if those who enforce the law are to be believed.

  • ... to raise a glass in honor of the departed?

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