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The health and economic consequences of moderate alcohol consumption in Germany
A recent study aimed to estimate the positive and negative consequences on mortality, years of potential life (YPL), quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), resource utilisation, and societal costs attributable to moderate alcohol consumption in Germany in 2002.

The concept of attributable risks and a prevalence-based approach was used to calculate age- and sex-specific alcohol attributable mortality and resource utilisation for a wide range of disorders, and avoided mortality and resource utilisation for diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cholelithiasis. The literature provided prevalence of moderate alcohol consumption in Germany by age and sex and relative risks. Direct costs were calculated using routine utilisation and expenditure statistics. Indirect costs were calculated using the human capital approach.

The study found that due to moderate alcohol consumption, 14,457 lives, 205,691 YPL, and 179,964 QALYs were lost, whereas 29,918 lives, 300,382 YPL, and 258,284 QALYs were gained. Up to an age of 55 to 60 (62.5–67.5) years, more lives were lost than gained among men (women), whereas in older age groups more lives were gained than lost. Moderate alcohol consumption caused €3049 million of direct and €2630 million of indirect costs, whereas €2094 million of direct and €2604 million of indirect costs were avoided.

The authors conclude that despite considerable uncertainty, moderate alcohol consumption seems to result in an overall net effect of gained lives, YPL, and QALYs, realized among the elderly, but overall increased societal costs.

Source: ‘The Health and Economic Consequences of Moderate Alcohol Consumption in Germany 2002’ Alexander Konnopka, Hans-Helmut Konig. Value in Health, Vol. 12, No. 2., pp. 253-261.

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