Alcohol killed three million people in 2016 – more than infectious diseases, cancers combined, the World Health organisation said on Friday. More than 75 per cent of the alcohol related deaths were among men, it said.
The WHO research revealed that alcohol consumption in India more than doubled from 2005 to 2016. India's per capita consumption increased from 2.4 litres, to 4.3 litres and then 5.7 litres in 2005, 2010 and 2016 respectively.
The UN health agency report projected India as one of the most worrying countries where alcohol consumption is expected to increase by 2.2 liters alone.
Of all the three million (30 lakh) deaths in 2016 attributable to alcohol, 28 per cent were due to injuries, such as those from car crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence; 21% due to digestive disorders; 19% due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancer, mental disorders and other health conditions.
Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders, WHO said.
Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world, even though its per capita consumption has decreased by more than 10% since 2010.
How much do people drink?
On an average people consume 33 grams of pure alcohol a day, roughly equivalent to 2 glasses (each of 150 ml) of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two shots (each of 40 ml) of spirits.
School surveys indicate that, in many countries, alcohol consumption starts before the age of 15 with very small differences between boys and girls.
Worldwide, 45% of total recorded alcohol is consumed in the form of spirits. Beer is the second alcoholic beverage in terms of pure alcohol consumed (34%), followed by wine (12%).
So what can be done?
"All countries can do much more to reduce the health and social costs of the harmful use of alcohol," said Dr Vladimir Poznyak, Coordinator of WHO's Management of Substance Abuse unit. "Proven, cost-effective actions include increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans or restrictions on alcohol advertising, and restricting the physical availability of alcohol."