Tobacco and alcohol pose biggest threat to human health

Tobacco and alcohol pose biggest threat to human health

"Estimating the prevalence of use and associated burden of disease and mortality at the country, regional, and global level is critical in quantifying the extent and severity of the burden arising from substance use."

Based on the data obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the research study has evaluated the burden of death and disease of tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse.

However, the rates of marijuana and opioid dependence were nearly threefold higher in the United States and Canada (a region called "high-income North America" in the report) than in the rest of the world, with an estimated 749 cases of marijuana dependence and 650 cases of opioid dependence per 100,000 people. Global estimates suggest that almost one in seven adults (15.2 percent) smoke tobacco and one in five adults report at least one occasion of heavy alcohol use in the past month.

Worldwide, tobacco is responsible for 110 deaths per 100,000 people, while alcohol causes 33 fatalities, a study by University College London found.

One in five adults reported at least one bout of heavy alcohol consumption in the past month.

All the illicit drugs combined accounted for 27.8 million disability-adjusted life years, the scientists found. In addition, 15 percent reported daily tobacco smoking, 3.8 percent reported marijuana use in the past year, 0.77 percent reported amphetamine use in the past year, 0.37 percent reported non-medical opioid use in the past year and 0.35 percent reported cocaine use in the past year.

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"Alcohol use and tobacco smoking are far more prevalent than illicit substance use, globally and in most regions", the researchers wrote in the May 11 issue of the journal Addiction. Second in line comes alcohol consumption, to which 95 million disability-adjusted life-years are attributed. Over the prior year pot, amphetamine, opioid, and cocaine use came in at 4% of the adult population, with a lot of them way under. The estimates were in even lesser for drugs like opioids, cocaine and amphetamines.

Per capita, Central Europeans drink 11.61 liters of alcohol per person, Eastern Europeans drink 11.98 liters per person, and Western Europeans consume 11.09 liters.

Alcohol consumption and tobacco use were higher in many parts of Europe compared to other countries. There is little or no data on substance use and the related health burden in some areas of the world, such as Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia.

The researchers believe more reliable data collection and reporting is required to accurately determine geographical variations in substance abuse.

The team notes there are key limitations to the data, particularly for illicit drugs, but believe that assembling this information in one place will help governments and global agencies form policies to combat substance use.

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