Signs of alcohol at a liquor store in Washington, DC. (UPI/BIllie Jean Shaw)
WASHINGTON, June 27 (UPI) -- For every ten fatalities of working-age adults, one is attributable to excessive alcohol consumption. That's the conclusion of a recent study by researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Between 2006 and 2010, the CDC found, some 88,000 deaths could be attributed to excessive drinking. Those 88,000 lost lives were cut short by an average of 30 years. All totaled, Americans lose approximately 2.56 million years of life each year due to alcohol-related deaths. As The Washington Posts' Wonkblog pointed out, that's about 3 days per person.
And though most expect alcohol related deaths to be caused by car crashes and liver failure, excessive drinking leads to all kinds of fatal consequences: acute pancreatitis, psychosis, esophageal cancer, breast cancer, oral cancer, falling injuries, suicide and drowning.
"Excessive drinking is associated with a lot more causes of death than what we tend to focus on. Alcohol intake plays a role in at least 54 different conditions linked to death," explained lead researcher Mandy Stahre.
And as Stahre -- who has since left the CDC to serve as a epidemiologist with the Washington state Department of Health -- points out, the victims are often middle-aged wage-earners. It's not just a loss of life, but a major hit to the economy -- wrecked potential that saps some $224 billion a year from the U.S. economy.
"We're talking about a large economic impact, people who are contributing to society," Stahre said. "They're in the prime of their lives, whether they're building up careers or mid-career."
The report also ranked the states that, from 2006 to 2010, featured the highest percentage of alcohol related deaths among citizens aged 20 to 64. The entirety of the top ten is occupied by Western locales. Sixteen percent of working-age adult fatalities in New Mexico are attributable to alcohol. Not far behind are Alaska, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho.
The top three states least plagued by excessive drinking deaths are Maryland, New Jersey and New York, where just above 7 percent of working-age deaths are related to alcohol.