Most people know drinking isn’t good for them, but they may not know just how bad it is. In fact, alcohol consumption is responsible for one in 20 deaths globally each year, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released Friday.
Worldwide, harmful use of alcohol kills up to 3 million people annually, accounting for 5% of the global disease burden. Most of those who die due to alcohol use—over 75%—are men.
Alcohol-use disorders are highest in wealthier nations, according to the report. An estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-related issues, with the highest prevalence in Europe, where alcohol use impacts 14.8% of men and 3.5% of women. The Americas follow European regions with 11.5% of men and 5.1% of women suffering from overuse of alcohol and subsequent conditions that often follow alcohol abuse.
The study also breaks down the types of conditions associated with alcohol-related deaths. For example, 28% of alcohol-related deaths were related to injuries. Another 21% were due to digestive diseases, and 19% were due to cardiovascular disease. Other related causes included cancers, infectious diseases, mental health disorders, among other conditions commonly associated with excessive drinking and alcoholism.
In August, a medical journal study explained that Americans are, in general, drinking way too much booze. The study authors concluded there is no such thing as a safe or healthy amount of alcohol consumption.