Researchers conducted a cross-sectional assessment of deaths due to excessive alcohol consumption among US adults aged 20–64 years. Using national mortality data from 2015 through 2019, the authors estimated mean annual deaths directly attributable to alcohol consumption (i.e., due to injury, cancer, etc), and deaths indirectly attributable to alcohol consumption (i.e., 23 different chronic conditions). Alcohol-attributable deaths were then calculated as a percentage of total deaths, and by sex, age, and state.
- Between 2015 and 2019, it was estimated that approximately 13 percent of annual US deaths were attributable to excessive alcohol consumption (89,697 annual mean alcohol-attributable deaths out of 694,660 annual mean total deaths).
- Men had a higher proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths (15 percent), compared with women (9 percent).
- A higher proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths were estimated to be in younger age groups compared with older age groups (25 percent among adults aged 20–34 years versus 18 percent of adults aged 35–49 years).
- The proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths was generally higher in the mountain West, upper Midwest, and New England states, compared with Michigan, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, and states in the Southeastern US.
- Leading causes of alcohol-attributable deaths by age group were the same for men and women (for adults aged 20–34 years: other poisonings, motor vehicle traffic crashes, and homicide; for adults aged 35–49 years: other poisonings, alcohol-associated liver disease, and motor vehicle traffic crashes).
Comments: This study suggests that there are high rates of premature death due to excessive alcohol consumption in the US, particularly among younger age groups, men, and in specific states and regions. To prevent these deaths, there is a need for broader implementation of evidence-based individual and population-level prevention and treatment policies.
Elizabeth A. Samuels, MD, MPH, MHS
Reference: Esser MB, Leung G, Sherk A, et al. Estimated deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use among US adults aged 20 to 64 years, 2015 to 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(11):e2239485.