More than three million deaths worldwide in 2012 were due to harmful use of alcohol – and Europe is the region with the highest consumption of alcohol per capita, according to a report.
Alcohol consumption can not only lead to dependence but also increases the risk of developing more than 200 diseases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
A report launched by WHO found harmful use of alcohol – drinking that causes detrimental health and social consequences for the drinker, the people around the drinker and society at large – led to 3.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012.
Globally, Europe is the region with the highest consumption of alcohol per capita, with some of its countries having particularly high consumption rates, according to WHO.
Trend analysis shows that the consumption level is stable over the last five years in the region, as well as in Africa and the Americas, though increases have been reported in the South-East Asia and the Western Pacific regions.
Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases and mental health, said there is “no room for complacency”.
“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption.”
On average every person in the world aged 15 or older drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year.
But 38.3 per cent of the population actually drinks alcohol, meaning those who do drink consume on average 17 litres of pure alcohol annually, WHO said.
The report also points out that a higher percentage of deaths among men than among women are from alcohol-related causes – 7.6 per cent of men’s deaths and 4 per cent of women’s deaths – though there is evidence that women may be more vulnerable to some alcohol-related health conditions.