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Alcohol responsible for up to 15% of early deaths in EU

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 15.11.2007 11.00
Press release -

Alcohol use increases the risk of several types of cancer and is a significant cause of premature death in EU countries. The hazard it poses to health outstrips any health benefits it may have.

This is according to Professor Jürgen Rehm, who addressed a conference held in Espoo, Finland, 15 November, that concluded a 2004-2007 alcohol programme run by the government. The programme sought to cut the harmful effects of alcohol use and involved a wide range of organisations and sectors of society.

Professor Rehm said that alcohol use has clear links to the risk of cancer of the lips, throat and mouth, larynx, oesophagus, liver, small and large intestine and, in women, breast cancer. He said that although alcohol use was increasing among women in EU countries, its harm is most apparent among men.

In Central and Eastern Europe it is responsible for 15%, and in other parts of the Community 12%, of premature deaths. Rehm said that worldwide alcohol use is increasing most in more densely populated countries. It is also linked to the spread of chronic diseases and rising accident rates involving inebriated people.

Alcohol use in Finland has increased.Per capita consumption of pure alcohol increased from 6.7 litres in 1996 to 8.2 litres in 2005. And yet over the same period related to alcohol production and retailing dropped from 29,000 to 27,000 working years.

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