WHO: Alcohol Can Kill

    01 July, 2014

    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    Many people all over the world enjoy an alcoholic drink during dinner. Many people raise a glass of alcohol to celebrate a wedding or a birthday. And having drinks after work with friends and co-workers is called "happy hour." All these situations are considered "social drinking" because they happen at social events.
    WHO: Alcohol Can Kill
    When does social drinking become the kind of problem drinking that can kill? (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

    But when does "social drinking" become problem drinking?

    According to the World Health Organization alcohol abuse kills 3.3 million people each year. That is six percent of all deaths around the world.

    And in a new report on alcohol use around the world, the WHO says alcohol can create dependency, or addiction, in some people. The report also warns that alcohol use can increase the risk of developing more than 200 diseases, including some kinds of cancers. And, the WHO says alcohol abuse can put people at greater risk of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and HIV.

    WHO Mental Health and Substance Abuse Director Shekhar Saxena says the organization is concerned about drinking among young people between the ages 15 and 19. And it is most concerned about "binge-drinking," or an extended period of heavy drinking.

    "The report concludes that worldwide 16 percent of drinkers over the age of 15 engage in binge-drinking, which is much more harmful than other kind of drinking ..."

    The report warns that more women are drinking alcohol. And, the report says women are at greater risk than men for some alcohol-related health conditions.

    The report also finds Europe is the area with the highest alcohol use. Central and Eastern Europe are especially high.

    The WHO says people in Russia, Ukraine, and some neighboring countries drink a lot of alcohol and binge drink.

    Vladimir Poznyak is the WHO Management of Substance Abuse Coordinator. He says less alcohol is used in Africa than in Europe. But, he adds, the health effects are worse in Africa because of a lack of social support systems, such as access to health care.

    The World Health Organization suggests ways countries can protect people from alcohol abuse. These include increasing taxes on alcohol sales, raising the drinking age limit, and controlling the marketing of alcoholic beverages.

    And that's the Health Report. This report was written by Lisa Schlein in Geneva. I'm Anna Matteo.