WHO blames 5% of global deaths on alcohol
By philipedwards, Oct 30 2018 10:32AM
October 30, 2018
Increasingly, more and more people seek out sensible, informed choices to ensure a long and healthy life: more fruit and veg, regular light exercise, and for nicotine users, the high without the burning. And it is so exciting to see the impact this growing wave of health-conscious consumers is having on manufacturers and on popular media.
But the challenge of living well was brought home recently by a World Health Organisation report claiming alcohol remains a leading cause of death worldwide: 5% of people die every year from alcohol-related illnesses and accidents. This seems to be an astonishing claim, especially at a time when in almost every bar and restaurant, new brands line the shelves, each one claiming to be healthier and more interesting than the next.
But what if there really was a truly simple thing the whole world could do to make adult drinking safe? What if there was a synthetic alternative to alcohol that did not lead to 5% of all the deaths that happen worldwide, every year?
That simple thing would have to be an adult alternative to the alcohol we already know – one that has been designed to have all the benefits of a relaxing glass of wine, without the drawbacks that ruin so many lives. Imagine a world in which one in twenty people don’t have to die young from the side effects of alcohol.
Count your number of friends on Facebook, divide by 20, and you’ll see just how many people you know personally are likely to die from the toxic effects of alcohol. For young people, the figure is even more sobering: 13.5% of all deaths among people aged 20 to 39 can be attributed to drink.
One in seven people under 40 this year will die from alcohol.
So why is alcohol so slated by the WHO, and what does the WHO report really tell us? Why are the figures so shockingly high? Why aren’t more people aware how alcohol can harm us – and why isn’t more already being done to cut back on this single cause of death and morbidity?
It is not just alcohol’s contribution to accidents, violence and poisoning that make it such a major cause of death: habitual drinking can worsen and hasten a huge variety of illnesses which most people would never associate with a glass of beer.
In fact, the WHO states that alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 kinds of injury and diseases, including breast cancer, pancreatitis, and heart disease. In some cases the percentage of ailments linked to heavy alcohol consumption are dramatically high: 48% of cases of liver cirrhosis and 39% of physical injuries are caused by drink. Even when it is not directly responsible for a specific condition, habitual alcohol consumption weakens the immune system and can dramatically speed up the course of an infectious illness caused by a pathogen, such as tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS.
The WHO recommends educational campaigns to make the public more aware of the risks of alcohol, especially how it can contribute to the disease progression of dozens of conditions most of us would not have imagined could be worsened by a tipple, such as cancer. The WHO suggests higher taxes should be imposed to cut down on heavy drinkers – but taxes and public education campaigns did little to cut down on smoking. People understand the risks, and many still crave the hit of a nicotine. It was only when vaping hit the scene that many people have been able to easily ditch burning tobacco, because they have a desirable and far more sensible alternative in vaping.
Most people want to enjoy the benefits of a drink without the risks of accidentally becoming too inebriated, or suffering the long-term cumulative effects of ingesting a substance that is inherently toxic. Which is why it is so important not just to “drink aware”, but to drink differently: to have a genuine adult alternative at your local pub that offers all the benefits, without the drawbacks.
Today a fraction of Millennials smoke compared to their parents, largely because Vaping has completely transformed the way people consume nicotine. Imagine for a moment what a similar alternative to alcohol might look like – something that didn’t make you fat, destroy your liver, spawn cancers, impair judgment, or leave you feeling horrible the next day? What would it taste like? How might you drink it? Would it come in the form of a long relaxing pint, a bottle to be shared over dinner, or a quick shot for pep? What sort of ritual would it involve? Would you want a range of choices at a bar to share in a social setting, or would you want to select it from an array of options from a specialist emporium? What might life be like without “beer fear” – worrying about what you might have done before your memory tapped out? Imagine a year – or a lifetime – without the pain and regret of a blistering hangover.
What might our entire world be like without the bar brawls and foolish decisions that so many people make when indulging in excessive volumes of alcohol? What would the hospital A+E be like without the 70% of casualties attending due to alcohol? And what might the world be like for so many who want to get their lives back under control?
Is this something we should already be exploring?
Alcarelle believes that science is not a barrier to a brighter future for adult drinkers, and we are working to fill this space. Our goal is to use science and technology to develop and manufacture products which would enable a safer alternative to alcohol, with all the pleasant and relaxing upsides, without the dangers. We believe that by combining cutting edge science with the creativeness of the drinks industry, a new range of drinks products can emerge that will change the future of adult recreation for the benefit of all. The future is exciting… watch this space.