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Alcohol linked to early death and memory loss

According to a new report released by the Pan American Health Organization, nearly 80,000 people die each year in Latin and North America due to drinking too much alcohol. The study, which was released last Tuesday in the Journal Addiction, allowed researchers to study deaths related to alcohol consumption by reviewing death certificates. The study was completed over a two year period and reviewed information from sixteen North and Latin American countries. According to the report, men were killed more frequently than women. The senior advisor and author of the study confirmed that “people are drinking too much and it is killing people before they should be dying." She also noted that after studying the evidence, 100 percent of these deaths were preventable.

How much is too much alcohol?

  Researchers found that the most common cause of death is liver disease, although drinking too heavily may also cause a variety of other conditions such as disease, stroke, epilepsy, falls, suicides, transport-related injuries, and interpersonal violence. So how much alcohol it too much? It can depend on the person, but generally the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines “heavy drinking” as drinking more than two drinks each day if you are a man and more than one drink per day if you are a woman. How much is a drink? It depends on the type of alcohol. For instance, a 12 ounce beer is one serving, 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol is one serving, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor is one serving, and a 5-ounce glass of wine is one serving.

What countries had the highest alcohol deaths?

  Countries with the highest levels of alcohol consumption and related deaths were in Latin America. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, had the highest level of alcohol consumption, according to the report. Why are so many drinkers in these countries dying? The reasons can vary, but researchers noted it’s likely that many of the individuals who suffered alcohol-related deaths in these countries might not have died if they had better medical resources and more access to healthcare and support services. Another related issue is the medical community’s willingness to ask patients about their drinking and recommend support, if needed. According to the study, only 30% of doctors in the United States acknowledged talking to their patients about alcohol use.

How does alcohol affect memory loss?

  In a related study, the Journal Neurology published a report last Wednesday which provided evidence that individuals who drink more than two and a half drinks per day may speed up their memory loss, especially middle-aged men. According to the study which followed 5,000 men and 2,000 women for 10 years, those individuals who drank “2.5 drinks of wine, beer or hard liquor daily accelerated memory loss by up to 6 years. This was not seen in those who do not drink or who drink moderately.” What’s the bottom line? While moderate alcohol consumption may not have deleterious effects on your brain- moderation is key. Too much alcohol and you might have loss of cognitive functioning and early death.
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