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Reduction in alcohol prices increases alcohol-related mortality

March 20, 2016

For all-cause mortality, the estimates implied 42 and 69 fewer monthly deaths in the oldest group. The lower all-cause mortality rates relate not only to decreases in CVD deaths but to fewer deaths from pulmonary disease, dementia, and diabetes; there were no changes in cancer death rates. The authors state: "the negative, i.e., beneficial, point estimates found in the current study suggest that cheaper alcohol may . . . have fostered moderate consumption and its beneficial effects in at least some part of the population." They quote recent surveys showing that "alcohol consumption in the 2000s has increased among persons aged >65 years and those aged 50-69 years, whose drinking is reported to be primarily low to moderate'.

Conclusion These results obtained from the time series analyses suggest that the reduction in alcohol prices led to an increase in alcohol-related mortality, except in persons <40 years of age. However, it appears that beneficial effects in older age, when CVD deaths are prevalent, counter-balance these adverse effects, at least to some extent.

International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research members agreed that both potentially harmful and beneficial effects resulting from changes in alcohol intake should be considered when estimating population effects. They were unsure whether all of the reported effects in the elderly should be attributed to changes in alcohol intake, as decreases in CVD and all-cause mortality rates were occurring prior to the change in alcohol intake.

Source: Boston University Medical Center