Alcohol and Noncommunicable Disease Risk
Purpose of Review
Alcohol use is a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), annually causing more than 1.8 million deaths, and approximately 52 million disability-adjusted life years lost globally. This review examines the relationship between alcohol use and NCDs in the context of current United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) initiatives to reduce the burden of NCDs as well as the resulting policy implications.
The importance of alcohol as a major risk factor for NCDs is evidenced by its inclusion as one of only four behavioral risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol) into the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs. Alcohol use also plays a major role in other strategic initiatives of the UN and WHO.
While these inclusions help enable policy measures to reduce harmful alcohol use, the Global NCD Action Plan in general disregards many diseases and injuries caused by alcohol, most notably liver cirrhosis and all mental disorders. Furthermore, the Global NCD Action Plan also fails to highlight interactions between risk factors; however, there is strong epidemiological evidence of the differential harms caused by alcohol use between poverty/socioeconomic strata. Thus, future policy plans should explicitly include consideration of health inequalities.
KeywordsAlcohol Noncommunicable disease Policy Risk factor Liver cirrhosis
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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