In 2000 the ILSI Europe Alcohol Task Force initiated a meta-anaylsis
on mortality attributable to current alcohol consumption.
A number of regions in Europe were screened for the study, the
first from the exercise having been published in the Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health (2001: Vol. 56, No.6 pp383-388).
Now , a second study from this activity has been published in
the Social Science and Medicine (2003;56:1385-1395).
It describes trends in mortality attributable to current alcohol
consumption in East and West Germany. There is increasing awareness
of alcohol as a cause of the persisting health divide between
eastern and western Germany.
Taking into account both the adverse and beneficial effects of
alcohol, this study quantifies the burden of alcohol attributable
mortality in 2 parts of Germany in the 1990s.
Including the cardio-protective effect of alcohol, there were
1.4% more deaths among men aged 20+ in 1992 in Germany than would
have been expected in a non-drinking population, while there were
0.1% fewer deaths among women.
By 1997, this had increased to 1.8% excess male deaths and 0.1%
excess female deaths. In 1997 alcohol caused 9.0% of all the
east German men compared with 5.6% in the west (women east: 2.5%
women west 2.2%) At the same time alcohol prevented 5.5% deaths
in east German men compared with 4.3% in the west, while there
were 2.9% and 2.0% fewer deaths in women.
It was concluded that mortality attributable to alcohol contributes
considerably to overall mortality and to east-west gap in Germany.
The study points to the need for comprehensive policies on alcohol
in Germany to close the persisting east-west gap.