Russian Men Dying Early From Heavy Vodka Use, Study Says

Though Russians may toast with the words “to our health” in fact vodka can become the reason for their deaths.

A new study suggests that many Russian men are often “drinking themselves to death”. Photo: Wary/Flickr

Russian who used to consume three bottles of their traditional alcohol dring in a week double their risk of dying over the next 20 years, the new study shows.

Now it’s possible to explain why Russian men’s life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world — 64 compared to 76 for U.S. men, writes NBC News.

“Vodka (or other strong alcoholic drink) is a major cause of death in Russia,” the team of Russian and British researchers revealed in the Lancet medical journal.

However, controls meant to limit drinking seem to be helping, they added.

“Russian death rates have fluctuated wildly over the past 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,” British cancer expert Richard Peto of the University of Oxford, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

David Zaridze of the Russian Cancer Research Center in Moscow and a group of his colleagues polled about 200,000 people in three Siberian citiesBarnaul, Byisk, and Tomsk, over 10 years from 1999 to 2008.

These places had been chosen from the list of many others as they reflect the average Russian population, the team of researchers explained. They interviewed people about drinking habits and health, and then looked to see who died and when.

The results showed that the clearest pattern can be noticed among the heaviest drinkers who also appeared to be severe smokers. They cleared out anyone who already had some disease at the moment of interviewing, and came up with 57,000 men.

Researchers were shocked: men between 35 and 54 who drank less than a bottle of vodka every week had a 16 percent percent possibility of dying of anything over the next 20 years.

However, this rate increased up to 20 percent for Russians who drank one to three bottles every 7 days and to 35 percent for those who admitted drinking three or more bottles a week.

Major part of the interviews admitted that they used to drink a bottle or less a week, but 2,842 confessed to scientists they drank three or more bottles every week.

“Since 2005, Russian consumption of spirits and male mortality before age 55 years both decreased by about a third but are still substantial,” the researchers noted.

By the way, it can not be estimated how many men in Russia consume more than three bottles of the dangerous drink. Lead researcher Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University revealed to reporters awful number: the average Russian adult drinks 20 liters of vodka per year while the average Briton drinks about three liters of spirits.

“Russians clearly drink a lot, but it’s this pattern of getting really smashed on vodka and then continuing to drink that is dangerous,” Peto said.

“The rate of men dying prematurely in Russia is totally out of line with the rest of Europe,” he said. “There’s also a heavy drinking culture in Finland and Poland but they still have nothing like Russia’s risk of death.”

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