Aims To analyse the relationship between population drinking and liver cirrhosis mortality in eastern European countries and compare it with similar findings from western Europe.
Design and measurements Yearly data, from the approximate period 1960–2002, on liver cirrhosis mortality in total and by gender were analysed in relation to per capita alcohol consumption in nine eastern European countries divided into ‘spirits countries’ and ‘non-spirits countries’. The Box–Jenkins technique for time–series analysis was used to estimate the impact on liver cirrhosis resulting from a 1-litre increase in per capita consumption in terms of relative (%) and absolute effects (number of cirrhosis deaths).
Findings Cirrhosis mortality rates were related significantly to population drinking in eight of nine eastern European countries and both relative and absolute alcohol effects laid within the range of previous western European estimates. A 1-litre increase in per capita consumption was on average estimated to cause three to four additional cirrhosis deaths per 100 000 for men and one additional death for women. The absolute effects for men were relatively high in a European perspective: stronger than in mid- and northern Europe and only marginally weaker in comparison with southern Europe.
Conclusions A reduction in per capita alcohol consumption would prevent many cirrhosis deaths in eastern Europe, particularly for men. It is suggested that further studies of the extent other forms of alcohol-related mortality respond to changes in population drinking in eastern Europe would be valuable.