Alcohol death toll is growing, US government reports say

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ANNOUNCER: YOU’RE WATCHING WCVB NEWSCENTER 5 AT 5:30. ERIKA: THE NUMBER OF ALCOHOL-RELATED DEATHS JUMPED MORE THAN 25% DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF THE COVID-19 PAEMICND. HERE TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIS ONIS DR. ALI RAJA, THE EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIR FOR EMERGENCY MEDICINE AT MASS GENERAL HOSPIL. BEN: LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. EVERY YEAR FROM 1999-2017, THE AVERAGE INCREASE IN ALCOHOL-RELATED DEATHS WAS AROU 2ND%. BUT LOOK AT THIS, FROM 2019O T 2020, IT SKEPID 25.5%. WHY ARE MESO EXPERTS BLAMING THE PANDEMIC? >> IT’S REALLY UNFORTUNATE. HERE’SHE T THI,NG IT’S BEEN STRESSFUL COUPLE OF YEARS. WHILE A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BUNCH OF DIFFERENT COPING MECHANISMS FOR STRESS, ALCOHOL IS PTTREY COMMON. UNLIKEOT L EVERY OTHER THINGS, TRAVELING AND SOCIALIZING, ALCOHOL DI’TDNO G AWAY. I ALWAYS TELL MY PATIENTS OR ANYBYOD WATCHING, IF YOU KNOW SOMEBODY WHO NEEDS HELP, RCHEA OUT TO THE STATE’S MASSACHUSETTS SUBSTANCE ABUSE HELPLINE. ERIKA: MY UNDERSTANDING, WE TALK ABOUT ISTH BEFORE, WOMEN MAY BE INCREASE RDKIS THAT’S BECAUSE OF LIVER DISEASE CAUSES ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF ALCOHOL-RELATED DEATHS. THE OTHER BIG CONTRIBUTORS ARE ALCOHOL OVERDOSE AND DRUNK-DRIVING CRASHES. ANY ONE OF THOSE SITUATIONS COULD SEND A PATIENT TO THE E.R., SO DID YOU EERXPIENCE A –RE A WOMEN AT RISK? >> THE DATA DO SHOW THAT SWIM ARE AT RISK. IT SHOWS PEOPL INE THEIR 30’S AND 40S ATROPC.HI AT — AT RISK. IOT G TO TLEL YOU, WE SAW LOT OF REALLY DELAYED CARE DURING THE PANDEMIC. NOW WE GOT CLICSNI BACK HOME AND TELEHEALTH BACK OPEN, THERE’S NO REASON WHY WE CAN’T CATCH UP ON MISSED DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS. BEN: LET’S GET TO SOME OF THESE VIEWER QUESTIONS. THE FIRST ONE IS FROM ASHER. WHISY THE NEW VARIANT CALLED STEALTH OMICN?RO >> THAT’S SUCH A GREAT QUESTION. GOT ITS NICKNAME EARLY ON. BACK THEN, DELTAAS W THE DOMINANT STRAIN. BA2, THI NSEW OMIONCR LOOKED MORE LIKE DELTA TNHA BA1. YOU COULDN’T TELL IT LIKEEL D TAN OUT PCR. NOW THAT DELTAAS H REALLY GONE DOWN. WE CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWNEE BA1 AND BA2. IT’S NOT REALLY STEALTH. ERIKA: HERE’S ANOTHER ONE, THIS TIME FROM NELL. I HAVE TWO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ANTI-COVID PILLS. DO THEY WORK WITH OMICRON AND WHERCAE N I BUY THEM? >>OO GD QUESTION. I THINK THIS IS A LOT OF PEOPLE’S MIND. THERE’S SOME MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES THAT WORK FOR DELTA ATTH DON’T WORK FOR OMICRON. THE PILL — IN PRESIDENT BIDEN’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD ABOUT THAT TEST TO TREAT PROGRAM. THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO GET A COVID TEST AND A PILL IF THAT TEST IS POSITIVE A ILLN THE STATEMENT PHARCYMA VISITS. BEN:E W HOPE THATA2 B IS A SHORT BUMP IN

Related video above: Was COVID-19 pandemic to blame for alcohol-related death spike?The rate of deaths that can be directly attributed to alcohol rose nearly 30% in the U.S. during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new government data.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had already said the overall number of such deaths rose in 2020 and 2021. Two reports from the CDC this week provided further details on which groups have the highest death rates and which states are seeing the largest numbers.”Alcohol is often overlooked” as a public health problem, said Marissa Esser, who leads the CDC’s alcohol program. “But it is a leading preventable cause of death.”A report released Friday focused on more than a dozen kinds of “alcohol-induced” deaths that were wholly blamed on drinking. Examples include alcohol-caused liver or pancreas failure, alcohol poisoning, withdrawal and certain other diseases. There were more than 52,000 such deaths last year, up from 39,000 in 2019.The rate of such deaths had been increasing in the two decades before the pandemic, by 7% or less each year.In 2020, they rose 26%, to about 13 deaths per 100,000 Americans. That’s the highest rate recorded in at least 40 years, said the study’s lead author, Merianne Spencer.Such deaths are 2 1/2 times more common in men than in women, but rose for both in 2020, the study found. The rate continued to be highest for people ages 55 to 64, but rose dramatically for certain other groups, including jumping 42% among women ages 35 to 44.The second report, published earlier this week in JAMA Network Open, looked at a wider range of deaths that could be linked to drinking, such as motor vehicle accidents, suicides, falls and cancers.More than 140,000 of that broader category of alcohol-related deaths occur annually, based on data from 2015 to 2019, the researchers said. CDC researchers say about 82,000 of those deaths are from drinking too much over a long period of time and 58,000 from causes tied to acute intoxication.The study found that as many as 1 in 8 deaths among U.S. adults ages 20 to 64 were alcohol-related deaths. New Mexico was the state with the highest percentage of alcohol-related deaths, 22%. Mississippi had the lowest, 9%Excessive drinking is associated with chronic dangers such as liver cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Drinking by pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects. And health officials say alcohol is a factor in as many as one-third of serious falls among the elderly.It’s also a risk to others through drunken driving or alcohol-fueled violence. Surveys suggest that more than half the alcohol sold in the U.S. is consumed during binge drinking episodes.Even before the pandemic, U.S. alcohol consumption was trending up, and Americans were drinking more than when Prohibition was enacted. But deaths may have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began for several reasons, including people with alcohol-related illnesses may have had more trouble getting medical care, Esser said.She added that the research points to a need to look at steps to reduce alcohol consumption, including increasing alcohol taxes and enacting measures that limit where people can buy beer, wine and liquor.

Related video above: Was COVID-19 pandemic to blame for alcohol-related death spike?

The rate of deaths that can be directly attributed to alcohol rose nearly 30% in the U.S. during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new government data.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had already said the overall number of such deaths rose in 2020 and 2021. Two reports from the CDC this week provided further details on which groups have the highest death rates and which states are seeing the largest numbers.

“Alcohol is often overlooked” as a public health problem, said Marissa Esser, who leads the CDC’s alcohol program. “But it is a leading preventable cause of death.”

A report released Friday focused on more than a dozen kinds of “alcohol-induced” deaths that were wholly blamed on drinking. Examples include alcohol-caused liver or pancreas failure, alcohol poisoning, withdrawal and certain other diseases. There were more than 52,000 such deaths last year, up from 39,000 in 2019.

The rate of such deaths had been increasing in the two decades before the pandemic, by 7% or less each year.

In 2020, they rose 26%, to about 13 deaths per 100,000 Americans. That’s the highest rate recorded in at least 40 years, said the study’s lead author, Merianne Spencer.

Such deaths are 2 1/2 times more common in men than in women, but rose for both in 2020, the study found. The rate continued to be highest for people ages 55 to 64, but rose dramatically for certain other groups, including jumping 42% among women ages 35 to 44.

The second report, published earlier this week in JAMA Network Open, looked at a wider range of deaths that could be linked to drinking, such as motor vehicle accidents, suicides, falls and cancers.

More than 140,000 of that broader category of alcohol-related deaths occur annually, based on data from 2015 to 2019, the researchers said. CDC researchers say about 82,000 of those deaths are from drinking too much over a long period of time and 58,000 from causes tied to acute intoxication.

The study found that as many as 1 in 8 deaths among U.S. adults ages 20 to 64 were alcohol-related deaths. New Mexico was the state with the highest percentage of alcohol-related deaths, 22%. Mississippi had the lowest, 9%

Excessive drinking is associated with chronic dangers such as liver cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Drinking by pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects. And health officials say alcohol is a factor in as many as one-third of serious falls among the elderly.

It’s also a risk to others through drunken driving or alcohol-fueled violence. Surveys suggest that more than half the alcohol sold in the U.S. is consumed during binge drinking episodes.

Even before the pandemic, U.S. alcohol consumption was trending up, and Americans were drinking more than when Prohibition was enacted. But deaths may have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began for several reasons, including people with alcohol-related illnesses may have had more trouble getting medical care, Esser said.

She added that the research points to a need to look at steps to reduce alcohol consumption, including increasing alcohol taxes and enacting measures that limit where people can buy beer, wine and liquor.

Contributed by local news sources

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