31 January 2014
The high number of early deaths in Russia is mainly due to people drinking too much alcohol, particularly vodka, according to new research. The study in The Lancet, thought to be the largest of its kind in the country, says a quarter of Russian men die before they are 55, and most of the deaths are caused by drinking too much. The figure in the UK is 7%.
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The study tracked the drinking habits of more than 150,000 adults in three Russian cities for up to a decade. It also drew on previous research looking at how much people had drunk before they died. It found death rates fluctuated in line with political events and changes in alcohol policy.
In 1985, under President Gorbachev, alcohol consumption was severely restricted and Russia's overall death rates fell. Then with the fall of communism and the instability that followed, people started drinking more, and death rates rose.
Researchers say it's the way Russians drink, binging on mostly vodka, that contributes to the high mortality rates.
Taxes and restrictions brought in in 2006 have helped reduce alcohol consumption, but the authors say drinking heavily is part of the Russian lifestyle, and that's what needs to change.
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- drew on
used information or experience for a particular purpose
- in line with
in the same way as
uncertainty caused by change, or the possibility of change
- binge on
drinking or consuming too much in a short time
- mortality rates
number of deaths in a population over a period of time