Heavy drinking puts poor at greater risk of illness, death

LONDON, May 11: Heavy alcohol consumption can put poverty-stricken people at greater risk of illness or death, according to a new study.
The study, published today in The Lancet Public Health journal, found that there is a link between socioeconomic status and the harm caused by drinking alcohol excessively.
Researchers led by the University of Glasgow in the UK found that although increased consumption was associated with harm in all groups of people, it was disproportionately harmful for the poorest in society.
Compared to light drinkers living in advantaged areas, heavy drinkers were at about seven-fold increased risk of alcohol harms. In contrast, heavy drinkers in deprived areas experienced an eleven-fold increased risk.
“Our study finds that the poorest in society are at greater risk of alcohol’s harmful impacts on health, but this is not because they are drinking more or more often binge drinking,” said Vittal Katikireddi, from University of Glasgow.
“Experiencing poverty may impact on health, not only through leading an unhealthy lifestyle but also as a direct consequence of poor material circumstances and psychosocial stresses,” said Katikireddi.
“Poverty may therefore reduce resilience to disease, predisposing people to greater health harms of alcohol,” he said.
“Heavier drinking is associated with greater alcohol- related harm in all individuals. However, our study suggests that the harm is greater in those living in poorer areas or who have a lower income, fewer qualifications, or a manual occupation,” said Elise Whitley from University of Glasgow.
The researchers linked different sets of data to bring together information from the Scottish Health Surveys with electronic health records of more than 50,000 people.
The study suggests that even when other factors are accounted for, including smoking and obesity, living in deprived areas was consistently associated with higher alcohol-related harms.
Researchers defined harm from alcohol consumption based on deaths, hospitalisations and prescriptions that were attributable to alcohol consumption. (AGENCIES)


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