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1 in 8 working-age deaths attributed to alcohol use, CDC study finds

An estimated one in eight deaths of Americans ages 20 to 64 in the years 2015-19 was the result of injuries or illness caused by excessive alcohol use, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Source: “Alcohol Deaths Claim Lives of Working-Age Americans,” New York Times, Nov. 1).

The study was published on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open, assessed the effects of alcohol on people of working age, who accounted for nearly two-thirds of the country’s annual average of 140,000 alcohol-related deaths.

The rates of excessive alcohol use and related deaths have most likely climbed since the period of the CDC analysis. After the onset of the pandemic, a variety of data showed Americans drank more frequently, and deaths due to a narrower set of causes attributable to alcohol rose 25% in 2020 over the previous year.

Alcohol is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, but it is often overshadowed by tobacco or opiates. And its effects on Americans’ health has been growing. Nearly a decade ago, a similar study found one in 10 deaths of working-age people was due to drinking, although researchers have changed the methodology, so a perfect apples-to-apples comparison is not possible.

This summer, HPIO released a Data Snapshot on death trends among working-age Ohioans.