Drinking Worse Than Smoking

New research shows alcoholism cuts life expectancy more drastically than a smoking addiction – especially for women.

Drinking Worse Than Smoking Photo (cc) by Afroswede

German researchers tracked more than 4,000 people over 14 years, including 153 alcoholics, for a new study that appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcoholic men were twice as likely to die in a given year as the general population, and women were more than four times as likely to die. And treatment doesn’t reverse the damage…

“First, we found that annualized death rates were 4.6-fold higher for females and 1.9-fold higher for males compared to the age- and gender-specific general population,” [lead researcher Ulrich] John said in a statement.

“Second, we found that the [average] age at death was 60 for females and 58 for males, both of which are about 20 years lower than the [average] age at death among the general population,” he added. “None of those deceased had reached the age of life expectancy.”

“Third, having participated in inpatient alcohol-dependent treatment was not related with longer survival compared to not having taken part in treatment, meaning that it did not seem to have a sufficient protective effect against premature death,” John said.

The researchers noted that the alcohol-related deaths are earlier in contrast to smoking-related deaths, which usually involve cancer. But they admit that 153 people is a small sample, so “strong conclusions are not possible.”

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