Alcohol use disorders skyrocket disease and death burden in U.S.

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A new study reports that alcohol use disorders (AUD) significantly contribute to disease and death rates in the United States.

Researchers from the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto say the results of the analysis were surprising.

"We had done meta-analyses on AUD before and knew it would be higher than previous literature, but we did not expect the burden for disease to be so high," lead author Jürgen Rehm said on The Center for Advancing Health's website.

AUD linked to 3 percent of deaths

Other studies have shown that alcohol use disorders can increase risk for more than 200 diseases and injuries, and the new research found that AUD was responsible for 3 percent of all adult deaths in the U.S.

Using data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, the research team found that AUD also contributed significantly to a disease burden called Years Lost to Disability (YLD).

Part of the challenge in analyzing AUD-related disease and death rates is that AUD doesn't have a standard, cohesive definition, says Dr. Stuart Gitlow, psychiatrist and president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

"The problem is everyone in the field defines AUD, a fairly new term, differently," Gitlow said. "For example, alcohol can lead to morbidity such as in traffic accidents, but this may have nothing to do with addiction, abuse and dependence."

More restrictions needed

Rehm said that the burden of AUD is partly the responsibility of government officials that oversee taxtion and advertising law, as healthcare policy makers can't prevent AUD alone.

"There needs to be restrictions on the availability of alcohol," he said. "Increases in taxation or bans of advertisements are not part of health care, and this is part of the problem."

More information on the study can be found in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Source: Science Daily

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