A recent study carried out by Nilssen and colleagues explored levels of alcohol consumption of a Russian population in relation to risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that mortality rates in Russia, especially in the Northern regions, are much higher than in other developed countries, and have been increasing (rather than decreasing, as is occurring elsewhere).
A total of 1963 men and 1734 women, aged 1875 years took part in the study, participating in a physical examination, a six-page questionnaire on health and lifestyle, and blood tests. Results showed that Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) levels in both sexes were more than twice as high as found in comparable studies. Elevated GGT-levels were 45 times more frequent than found in Norwegian studies. Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) identified up to 75% of male workers and 47% of female workers as hazardous or harmful alcohol drinkers. These findings indicate an extremely high level of alcohol consumption in this population. Elevation in GGT was significantly associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
The study points out strikingly high rates of alcohol abuse reported among its subjects, with the usual pattern of drinking being very large amounts on only one day per week. Despite the fact that these drinkers did not have very abnormal levels of cardiovascular risk factors, the very high death rates from heart disease in this area are undoubtedly related to the very unhealthy pattern of drinking (especially binging) of a large proportion of the population.
Source : Nilssen O et al, Alcohol consumption and its relation to risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the north-west of Russia: the Arkhangelsk study. Int J Epidemiology 2005; 34:781-788