Epidemiology and alcohol policy in Europe
Article first published online: 16 FEB 2011
© 2011 The Authors, Addiction © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction
Special Issue: Introducing the AMPHORA Project: Joining Forces to Support Alcohol Policy
Volume 106, Issue Supplement s1, pages 11–19, March 2011
How to Cite
Rehm, J., Zatonksi, W., Taylor, B. and Anderson, P. (2011), Epidemiology and alcohol policy in Europe. Addiction, 106: 11–19. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03326.x
- Issue published online: 16 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 16 FEB 2011
- Submitted 14 April 2010; final version accepted 14 June 2010
- attributable risk;
Aims To describe three aspects of the epidemiology of alcohol-attributable deaths in Europe, dose, demography and place, and to illustrate how such knowledge can better be used to inform alcohol policy formulation and implementation.
Design epidemiological and population health modeling.
Participants Based on country-specific aggregate statistics.
Measurements Exposure: country-specific adult per capita consumption triangulated with survey data; outcomes: mortality statistics.
Findings The absolute risk of dying from an alcohol-attributable disease and injury (accounting for a protective effect for ischaemic diseases) increases with increasing daily alcohol consumption beyond 10g alcohol per day, the first data point. Over 2/3 of all alcohol-attributable deaths occurring amongst the 20–64 year old population of the European Union (minus Cyprus and Malta) occur in the 45–64 year olds. About 25% of the difference in life expectancy between western and eastern Europe for men aged 20–64 years in 2002 can be attributed to alcohol, largely, but not exclusively, as a result of differences in heavy episodic drinking patterns.
Conclusions Any reduction in the dose of alcohol consumed, at least down to 10g/day, will reduce the annual and lifetime risk of an alcohol-related death. There is a need for alcohol policy to focus on measures in reducing alcohol consumption, throughout middle age, with immediacy of impact. Policy should strive to reduce alcohol-related health inequalities, with the specific recommendations for policy depending on the cost-effectiveness of interventions related to the epidemiological profile of the country or region under consideration. Fortunately, there are evidence-based policy options that reduce the amount of alcohol consumed and many alcohol-related harms with immediate effect, that reduce the risk of an alcohol-related death in middle age, and that would help to close the health gap between eastern and western Europe.