US alcohol-related deaths up nearly 30% in first year of Covid, data shows | The coronavirus

US alcohol-related deaths up nearly 30% in first year of Covid, data shows | The coronavirus

The rate of deaths directly attributable to alcohol rose by nearly 30 percent in the US during the first year of the Covid pandemic, according to new government data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already said that the total number of such deaths has increased in 2020 and 2021.

Two CDC reports this week provided additional details about which groups have the highest death rates and which states are seeing the highest tolls.

“Alcohol is often overlooked” as a public health problem, said Marissa Esser, who directs the CDC’s alcohol program. “But it is the leading preventable cause of death.”

A report released Friday focused on more than a dozen types of “alcohol-induced” deaths that were blamed entirely on drinking. Examples include liver or pancreatic failure caused by alcohol, alcohol poisoning, withdrawal, and some other illnesses. There were more than 52,000 such deaths last year, up from 39,000 in 2019.

The rate of such deaths increased in the two decades before the pandemic, by 7% or less each year.

In 2020, they increased by 26%, to about 13 deaths per 100,000 Americans. That’s the highest rate recorded in at least 40 years, said study lead author Merianne Spencer.

Such deaths are 2.5 times more common in men than in women, but both increased in 2020, the study found. The rate was still highest for people aged 55 to 64, but rose dramatically for some other groups, including a 42% jump among women aged 35 to 44.

Another report, published earlier this week in Jama Network Open, looked at a wider range of deaths that could be linked to alcohol, such as motor vehicle accidents, suicides, falls and cancer.

More than 140,000 of that broader category of alcohol-related deaths occur annually, based on data from 2015 to 2019, the researchers said. CDC researchers say about 82,000 of those deaths were caused by excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time, and 58,000 were from causes related to acute intoxication.

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