Alcohol Consumption & Mortality

The ATF Fosters Ignorance: "Only 9.7% of the public knows about the connection between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced heart disease risk supported by a wide body of medical research and noted in publications ranging from the New England Journal of Medicine to Consumer Reports."

Dr. Thomas A. Pearson, head of the American Heart Association's nutrition committee "... if current drinkers stopped drinking, heart disease related deaths ... would increase by 80,000 each year in the U.S."

Physicians and scientists at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) "middle-aged men and postmenopausal women may benefit the most from moderate alcohol consumption: an approximately 30-percent reduction in risk of heart disease."

Both case comparison and cohort epidemiologic research, as well as cross-cultural analysis, have now firmly established that alcohol reduces coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence and mortality (Criqui and Ringel 1994; Gaziano et al. 1993; Klatsky et al. 1992; Rimm et al. 1991; Stampfer et al. 1988; Suh et al. 1992). Prospective epidemiological studies also find that overall mortality is reduced by moderate alcohol consumption (Boffetta and Garfinkel 1990; Doll et al. 1994; Fuchs et al. 1995; Grnb�k 1994; Klatsky 1992). These benefits occur primarily for middle-aged men and women, for whom heart disease is the primary cause of death.However, they also apply to all adults at risk for heart disease, a substantial majority of both female and male adults (Fuchs et al.1995).

Stanton Peele, Ph.D., an alcoholism and addiction expert from Morristown, N. J.:
1.In 1995 Charles Fuchs and his colleagues at Harvard found that women who
drank up to two drinks a day lived longer than abstainers. Subjects were
85,700 nurses.
2.In 1995, Morten Gr�nb�k and colleagues found that wine drinkers survived
longer than abstainers, with those drinking three to five glasses daily having the
lowest death rate. Subjects were 20,000 Danes.
3.In 1994, Richard Doll and his colleagues found that men who drank up to two
drinks daily lived significantly longer than abstainers. Subjects were 12,300
British doctors.
4.In 1992 Il Suh and colleagues found a 40 percent reduction in coronary
mortality among men drinking three and more drinks daily. The 11,700 male
subjects were in the upper 10 to 15 percent of risk for coronary heart disease
based on their cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking status. Alcohol's
enhancement of high density lipoproteins was identified as the protective
5.In 1990, Paolo Boffetta and Lawrence Garfinkel found that men who drank
occasionally — up to two drinks daily — outlived abstainers. Subjects were
over a quarter of a million volunteers enrolled by the American Cancer
6.In 1990, Arthur Klatsky and his colleagues found that those who drank one or
two drinks daily had the lowest overall mortality rate. Subjects were 85,000
Kaiser Permanente patients of both genders and all races.

These data — from large prospective studies of people of both sexes, different
occupations, several nations and varying risk profiles — all point to alcohol's
life-sustaining effects. This phenomenon is now so well accepted that the U.S. dietary
guidelines released in January 1996 recognize that moderate drinking can be

The following table shows that the already low rate of alcohol consumption in the US causes the premature deaths each year of 60,000 of the 40 million Americans between the ages of 50-64.

Table 1: Temperance, Alcohol Consumption and Cardiac Mortality

Alcohol Consumption (1990) Temperance
total consumption c 6.6 10.8
percent wine 17.7 43.7
percent beer 53.1 40.4
percent spirits 29.2 15.9
AA groups/million population 170 25
coronary mortality d (males 50-64) 421 272
a Norway, Sweden, U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Iceland
b Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands
c Liters consumed per capita per annum
d Deaths per 100,000 population

Source: Peele S. Culture, alcohol, and health: the consequences of alcohol consumption among western nations. December 1, 1995. Morristown, NJ.

"More recently, Boffetta and Garfinkel   found that white American men who reported in 1959 that they consumed an average of fewer than three drinks per day were less likely to die during the next 12 years than men who reported abstinence."

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"Cancer kills an estimated 526,000 Americans yearly, second only to heart disease. Cancers of the lung, large bowel, and breast are the most common in the United States. Considerable evidence suggests a connection between heavy alcohol consumption and increased risk for cancer, with an estimated 2 to 4 percent of all cancer cases thought to be caused either directly or indirectly by alcohol". In other words, between 10,520 and 21,040 cancer deaths each year *MIGHT* betobaccosmoking.gif (4066 bytes) *RELATED* to alcohol.  None of the literature made the casual observation that many heavy drinkers are also heavy smokers, which is alleged to be "cancer-related".  But this ignores the casual observation that the RATE of cancer deaths per 100,000 population in the US  increased from 67 in 1990, to 149 in 1962, to 203 in 1996 a three fold increase in the rate of cancer deaths. The Gallup Poll shows that the number of smokers decreased by 15%, from 41% to 26% between 1962 and 1996, at the same time that the *rate* of cancer deaths increased 36%.


Thirty percent of the 25,047 cirrhosis deaths in the US each year are determined by the medical profession to be "alcohol-related", a term which belies their reluctance to claim that alcohol causes cirrhosis.  Their quandry is that, if alcohol *caused* cirrhosis, then there wouldn't be 17,533 cirrhosis deaths which are *not* alcohol-related. If alcohol were such a significant factor, then the 60% of the population which consumes an average of 2 ounces of alcohol per day, all year long, would be more than 60% of those cirrhosis deaths.  The simple statistical fact is that, if 60% of the population consumes this much alcohol, but only 30% of cirrhosis deaths are "alcohol-related", then it is the non-drinkers who are at the greatest risk, if not 100% of the risk, of dying of cirrhosis.  To assume from this data that even 7,514 alcoholics die of their disease each year is a real stretch of the imagination. 


MADD claims that half of the 41,075 auto traffic fatalities each year, or 20,538 fatalities, are "alcohol related". But reports directly from police nationwide show that 4% of all traffic accidents are "alcohol-related".  This means that a maximum of 1,643 traffic deaths are "alcohol-related", not caused by, drinking alcohol, which means that more than 39,432 of all traffic accidents are CAUSED by those with no alcohol in their blood.

The most conservative estimate of the number of lives which could be saved from heart disease each year by increasing alcohol consumption is 30,244:

  Lives per year
Lives lost to alcohol-related cirrhosis 7,514
Lives lost to alcohol-related auto traffic accidents 1,643
Lives saved from heart disease by increasing alcohol consumption 30,244
Net lives saved by drinking alcohol 21,087
  • The heart disease fatality rate in temperance countries like the US is 89% higher than nontemperance countries like France, Italy, and Germany (775 vs 410 deaths per 100,000 population).
  • American drinkers over age 65 have a heart disease fatality rate 40% lower than non-drinkers.
  • American drinkers over age 65 are not at increased risk to increased cancer mortality.
  • American women who consume one ounce of alcohol per day reduce their overall mortality rate 15%.
  • Americans who drink 3-4 drinks per day reduce their risk of death from coronary artery disease 50%.
  • French men live 1.8 years longer than American men and consume 69% more alcohol per capita.
  • Australians who drink one to four drinks per day, 6 days per week reduce their risk of major coronary event by 67%.
  • Americans who drink two drinks per day reduce their risk of stroke 45% compared to non-drinkers.
  • Indiana residents consume 2.1 gallons of alcohol per capita per year, 17% higher than average U.S. alcohol consumption of 1.8 gallons.
  • American men have one of the lowest life expectancies and rates in the industrialized world, four years shorter than Australia and Japan.
  • Reducing our alcohol consumption 18% caused an additional 30,244 coronary-related fatalities last year and an additional 226,000 since 1983.
  • International data shows that increasing annual consumption from 1.8 to 2.8 ounces of alcohol per capita would increase life expectancy by two years, from 73 to 75.
  • The increase in coronary-related fatalities is 30 times greater than the wildest claims about the number of lives saved with DUI laws.
  • Women drivers are a men's health risk.
  • One percent of drinkers are defined as heavy drinkers.
  • One ounce of alcohol raises the BAC (blood alcohol content) of  the average drinker to 0.05 of a large portion of the population to greater than 0.08.
  • Major sources of alcohol-related death in the United States — such as accident, suicide, and murder — vary from society to society and are not inevitable consequences of high levels of drinking.

Download a summary of alcohol consumption in pdf format from

Moderate drinkers, defined by some studies as males who consume 3-4 drinks per day and females who consume 1-2 drinks per day, have a cardiac mortality rate one half of those who don't drink at all.  The average per capita consumption of a moderate drinker by this definition is 5.7 gallons of alcohol per year.  This is 3 times the average per capita consumption of alcohol in the US.  1,053,000 Americans die from major cardiovascular disease each year.  This is a mortality rate of 390 fatalities per 100,000 population (National Center for Health Statistics, US Department of Health & Human Services).  If 70% of the population are moderate drinkers and 30% of them consume no alcohol at all, then their relative mortality rates are (30,000x1.5X + 70,000xX), X=339, 1.5X=509:

  Mortality Rate per 100,000 Population
Moderate Drinkers 339
Non Drinkers 509

The studies suggest that increasing the alcohol consumption of  non drinkers by 5.7 gallons each per year would reduce their mortality rate by 170 per 100,000 population.   The drinking age population is 80% of the 270 million citizens, or 216 million, so there are 64.8 million non drinkers whose current mortality rate is 509 per 100,000 population. Increasing their alcohol consumption from zero to 5.7 gallons each per year would increase US alcohol consumption by 393.4 million gallons per year--an 81% increase, from 486 to 879.4 million gallons per year.

If this reduced their cardiac mortality rate from 509 to 339 per 100,000 population, as the studies suggest, and if no other factors are involved, then mortalities in the US would decrease by 110,160 per year.  There are 2,384,100 deaths in the US each year, so this is a 4.6% decrease in the US mortality rate, or an increase in male life expectancy from 73 to 76.4 years. 

Each 3,571 gallon increase in alcohol consumption saves one life.

This predicted reduction in mortality is consistent with the international data.   For example, France consumes 69% more alcohol per capita and has a 2.5% higher life expectancy (74.8 years vs. 73 years in the US).  An 81% increase in per capita alcohol consumption in the US would be 7% higher than France and according to the studies would increase our life expectancy to 21% higher than France. Australia consumes 10.3% more alcohol per capita and has a 5.8% higher life expectancy (77.2 years).

In spite of all these studies and existing data, based solely on demands from MADD and other liberal, feminist, & totalitarian advocates, and excluding any data or studies which support its contrary position, this nation implemented a public safety policy which hasn't been proven to save lives, & which uses the force of law to reduce the alcohol consumption of  Americans.  Few Americans can avoid driving on our roads and highways.  Imprisoning them, NOT for a bad traffic record, NOT for actually having an accident, but for having a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08. It turned us into a totalitarian state at the same time it increased mortality rates.

The DUI campaign DID reduce alcohol consumption--from 2.2 to 1.8 gallons per capita.   Consumption today is 108 million fewer gallons than it would have been without the campaigns.   The data shows that mortality increases by one for each 3,571 gallon reduction in total alcohol consumption.  A reduction of 108 million gallons of alcohol increases cardiac deaths by 30,244 per year.

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