Current Event Cat of the Day: Death by Vodka

Current Event Cat - Russian Vodka Death

Shocking new research reveals that binge drinking alcohol, particularly vodka, is NOT great for you. In fact, it’s killing Russians.

The research suggests that the high number of early deaths in Russia is mainly due to people drinking too much alcohol, particularly vodka. Russians’ love of vodka is largely to blame for a quarter of all Russian men dying before they reach the age of 55. Death by vodka can come in many forms: liver disease, alcohol poisoning, throat cancer, suicide, and getting into drunken fights.

The study tracked the drinking patterns of 150,000 adults in three Russian cities over 10 years, some of whom reported drinking three or more bottles of vodka a week. Over the 10 year period 8,000 of them died.

While in other countries, death rates for people ages 15 to 54 have fallen steadily since 1980, Russian death rates seem to have fluctuated sharply – and often in line with alcohol consumption.

Russian death rates have fluctuated wildly over the last 30 years as alcohol restrictions and social stability varied under Presidents Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin, and the main thing driving these wild fluctuations in death was vodka,” study co-author Prof Richard Peto, from the University of Oxford, said.

Death by vodka seemed to fall when Gorbachev cut vodka production and put restrictions on sales – but then Yeltsin came into the picture and communicsm collapsed.

Death by Vodka - Russia

“When President Yeltsin took over from President Gorbachev, the overall death rates in young men more than doubled. This was as society collapsed and vodka became much more freely available.” Peto said.

“There was a huge increase in drinking and they were drinking in a destructive way. They were getting drunk on spirits and then buying and drinking more, producing a big risk of death.”

On a positive note, death by vodka in Russia seems to be on the decline. Alcohol restrictions put into place in 2006 appear to have curbed consumption by a third and the  proportion of men dying before they reach 55 years old has fallen from 37% to 25%.  But despite the drop, the relationship between vodka and deaths is still a major health crisis for Russia.

“They binge drink. That’s the main problem. It’s the pattern of drinking not the per-capita amount they are drinking,” David Zaridze from the Russian Cancer Research Centre in Moscow explained.

“Russians have always drunk a lot. They sometimes say it’s because of the cold weather but this is just an excuse. This is the nation’s lifestyle that needs to change.

“Since the average life expectancy from birth for men in Russia is still only 64 years, ranking among the lowest 50 countries in the world, more effective alcohol and tobacco policy measures are urgently needed.”

But if vodka is killing the Russians, why aren’t the South Koreans dropping like flies too? Apparently South Koreans are the biggest hard alcohol drinkers in the world, averaging 13.7 shots of liquor a week – compared to a measly 6.3 among Russians.


There’s only one way to settle this: a vodka off.

Via: Al Jazeera

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