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Summary of Alcohol-Related Deaths Have Doubled Since 1999, Here’s Why

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A new study finds that the number of alcohol-related deaths per year among people ages 16 and older doubled from 35,914 to 72,558 between 1999 and 2017.Researchers analyzed U.S. mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics to find almost 1 million alcohol-related deaths were recorded between 1999 and 2017. Researchers found that in 2017 nearly 3 percent of roughly 3 million U.S. deaths involved alcohol

Nearly half of those deaths were caused by liver disease or overdosing on alcohol alone or in addition to other drugs.

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Alcohol-related deaths in the United States have doubled among people at least 16 years old since 1999, according to a new study. Published recently in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research by researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the study showed that nearly 1 million alcohol-related deaths were recorded from 1999 to 2017. "Alcohol is a hidden addiction, one that everybody knows about but nobody wants to talk about," Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told ABC News. "What we have to learn as Americans is to moderate our drinking." Nearly half of those deaths, according to the study, were due to liver disease or overdosing on alcohol, either alone or combined with other drugs. Although more men than woman died from drinking every year, women saw a higher increase, which is especially concerning as there's growing evidence women are at greater risk of cancer, heart disease and liver failure from drinking similar quantities of alcohol. The study was released in the middle of "Dry January," a period when many challenge themselves to go the entire month without drinking. "Data has shown that benefits to short-term 'dry' periods include weight loss, better sleep, better skin appearance, blood pressure improvements and saving money," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent."Abstaining from alcohol allows people to re-evaluate where they stand with alcohol in their lives," said Dr. George Koob, adding that about 5% to 6% of American who drink have an alcohol-use disorder. "They may be slipping into bad habits, and this is a good time to re-evaluate alcohol in their lives."

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In the final analysis, "with the increases in alcohol use among women, there's been increases in harms for women including ER visits, hospitalization and deaths," Aaron White, who authored the paper, told NPR. The research shows that in 2017, alcohol proved to be even more deadly than illicit drugs, including opioids

That year there were about 70,000 drug overdose deaths — about 2,300 fewer than those involving alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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