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Alcohol addicts die around 20 years earlier

Alcohol addicts die around 20 years earlier

According to a study, alcohol addiction reduces life time by around 20 years

Alcohol addiction shortens life expectancy by around twenty years, according to the results of a long-term study by researchers from the Universities of Greifswald and Lübeck on the effects of alcohol and tobacco consumption. According to the scientists, the study will be published in the US specialist magazine “Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research” at the beginning of 2013.

Like the head of the Institute for Epidemiology and Social Medicine at the University of Greifswald, Professor Dr. Ulrich John, told the news agency "dpa", that alcohol-dependent women only reached an average life expectancy of 60 years within the scope of the study, while alcohol-addicted men died on average at 58 years. "None of the deceased alcohol addicts had reached the average age of 82 years for women and 77 years for men," the study director continued.

Alcohol addiction causes a significant shortening of the lifespan. As part of their own representative study, the researchers had already recorded and evaluated the health data of 4,070 randomly selected residents of Lübeck and 46 surrounding communities in 1996. 153 alcohol addicts were among the study participants. 149 subjects with alcohol addiction (119 men, 30 women) then took part in the long-term study of the scientists. For fourteen years, Prof. John and colleagues observed the influence of alcohol on the health of addicts. They found that alcohol addiction caused a massive reduction in life expectancy. The death rate among the study participants compared to their peers without alcohol problems had increased significantly. It was 1.9 times higher for male alcoholics and 4.6 times higher for alcoholics.

Women are more susceptible to alcohol than men According to the Greifswald epidemiologist, "women seem to react faster and more with illnesses to alcohol consumption than men." This increased susceptibility cannot be explained by the lower body mass alone. “Women have to take to heart that they are allowed to consume significantly less alcohol than men,” continues Prof. John. The international guidelines, which provide for a maximum daily amount of twelve grams of alcohol for women and 24 grams for men, can be used as a guide. Exceedances should be avoided as far as possible and "it is advisable to avoid alcohol at least two days a week".

Alcohol reduces life expectancy more than smoking Surprised the scientists not only the drastic impact of alcohol dependency on life expectancy, but also "that alcohol dependence seems to make a particularly significant contribution to shortening lifespan compared to smoking," explained Prof. John. This can probably be explained by the fact that the fatal cancers caused by smoking often only occur at an age of well over 60 - an age that most alcohol addicts do not even reach.

Weaning therapies with no impact on life expectancy The researchers also found in their study that therapies against alcohol dependence had no positive impact on life expectancy. "Our results show that those who were undergoing weaning treatment had no longer survival times than those who had never undergone therapy," explained study leader Prof. Of the 149 alcohol addicts, around 23 percent underwent several months of weaning therapy during the 14-year study period, 6.7 percent completed detoxification. However, both approaches remained "without a positive effect on life expectancy". In the opinion of the head of the Institute for Epidemiology and Social Medicine at the University of Greifswald, this is a clear sign that the therapy offers urgently need to be revised.

Therapy offers need to be revised According to the Greifswald social physician, in the case of alcohol addiction, "the therapies in Germany start too late when those affected already suffer from a large number of alcohol-related disorders." An adjustment of the offer is necessary here. According to Prof. John, significantly more emphasis should be placed on alcohol prevention. For example, price increases, sales bans at petrol stations and a strict ban on alcohol while driving are conceivable approaches. To date, "German society is far too alcohol-oriented" and "Germany is a high-consumption country," emphasized John.

Alcohol problems widespread How common alcohol problems are among the German population is shown by the figures from the German Center for Addiction Issues (DHS) and the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). According to this, "more than nine million people between the ages of 18 and 69 have a risky drinking behavior in this country". Almost three million people tend to consume alcohol that is harmful to their health and 1.6 million are dependent on alcohol. Few addicts are probably still aware of the drastic reduction in lifespan associated with alcohol addiction. (fp)

Also read:
Willpower is not enough to fight addiction
Naturopathy helpful with addiction therapies
Late treatment of alcohol addiction
Looks for a big problem in old age

Image: Paul-Georg Meister / pixelio.de

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