By Mel Pohl, MD, DFASAM

A recent report suggests no amount of alcohol: liquor, wine or beer is safe for a person’s overall health.

This global analysis found that alcohol was a contributing factor to 2.8 million deaths in 2016, that’s about one in every ten deaths.

Out of the 2.8 million deaths, the top cases were associated with alcohol-related cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, intentional injury and traffic accidents.

Internationally, the United States ranked fifth for the largest number of alcohol-related deaths among men with over 71,000 deaths and seventh among women with nearly 19,000 deaths in 2016.

Nevada ranked eleventh in the nation in alcohol and drug deaths in 2015, and alcohol-induced deaths were reported to be 15 per 100,000 residents.

New Mexico had the highest rate in the nation of 66 people per 100,000.

Some studies have suggested that minimal alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of heart disease but the small benefits are outweighed when compared to this global study.

This is interesting news, since we’ve been told for decades that alcohol has health benefits – a glass of red wine is good for your heart, for example. There is so much attention paid to opioid deaths, but it turns out that deaths from alcohol far surpass those numbers. Alcohol is one of the most toxic substances used and abused by humans – it causes irritation to tissues and eventual scarring, resulting in illness and premature death.

Globally, this study found that about 2.4 billion people have reported that they drink alcoholic beverages. 25 percent of those were women, who consumed about 0.73 drinks each day, while 39 percent were men who drank an average of 1.7 drinks per day. Even with these average daily consumption rates, alcohol was still the leading risk factor for disease and death of those between the ages of 15 and 49. For those 50 years old and up, alcohol-related cancers were a leading cause of death.

Alcohol remains one of the most heavily used substances for which people seek treatment. It often is used in combination with other drugs including opioids, marijuana and sedatives in all age categories. If you are concerned about your drinking or the drinking of a loved one, call for help. It’s never too late until you succumb to the fatal effects of alcohol.