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© 2019 by Brookfield Centre For Lifestyle Medicine.


In many parts of the world, drinking alcoholic beverages is a common feature of social gatherings. Low andmoderate amounts of alcohol, especially red wine has been associated with some positives health outcomes such as cardiovascular diseases. Nevertheless, the consumption of alcohol also carries a risk of adverse health and social consequences related to its intoxicating, toxic and dependence-producing properties.


Key facts


  • The harmful use of alcohol results in 2.5 million deaths each year.

  • 320 000 young people between the age of 15 and 29 die from alcohol-related causes, resulting in 9% of all deaths in that age group.

  • Alcohol is the world’s third largest risk factor for disease burden; it is the leading risk factor in the Western Pacific and the Americas and the second largest in Europe.

  • Alcohol is associated with many serious social and developmental issues, including violence, child neglect and abuse, and absenteeism in the workplace.


Harmful Use of Alcohol and Lifestyle Diseases


The harmful use of alcohol is a global problem which compromises both individual and social development. It results in 2.5 million deaths each year. It also causes harm far beyond the physical and psychological health of the drinker. It harms the well-being and health of people around the drinker. An intoxicated person can harm others or put them at risk of traffic accidents or violent behaviour, or negatively affect co-workers, relatives, friends or strangers. Thus, the impact of the harmful use of alcohol reaches deep into society.

The impact of alcohol consumption on disease and injury is largely determined by two separate but related dimensions of drinking:

  • the total volume of alcohol consumed (60 or more grams of pure alcohol)

  • the pattern of drinking.

A broad range of alcohol consumption patterns, from occasional hazardous drinking to daily heavy drinking, creates significant public health and safety problems in nearly all countries. One of the key characteristics of the hazardous pattern of drinking is the presence of heavy drinking occasions, defined as consumptions of 60 or more grams of pure alcohol.

Harmful drinking is a major determinant for neuropsychiatric disorders, such as alcohol use disorders and epilepsy and other noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver and various cancers. Alcohol consumption weakens the immune system.