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Alcohol is “the world’s third largest risk factor for disease and disability,” and is responsible for nearly four percent of deaths worldwide — more than AIDS, violence or tuberculosis — according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2011. More must be done worldwide to combat alcohol’s negative impact on health, WHO said in the press release. Alcohol is a “causal factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries and a component cause in 200 others,” and is “associated with many serious social issues, including violence, child neglect and abuse, and absenteeism in the workplace,” according to the report on global alcohol consumption.

“Many countries recognize the serious public health problems caused by the harmful use of alcohol and have taken steps to prevent the health and social burdens and treat those in need of care. But clearly much more needs to be done to reduce the loss of life and suffering associated with harmful alcohol use,” said Dr. AlaAlwan, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health.

Worldwide alcohol consumption averaged 6.13 liters of pure alcohol per person in 2005 and 9.4 liters in the United States. Although drinking is common, the majority of people do not drink, according to WHO. In 2005, almost two-thirds of women and nearly half of all men abstained entirely from drinking.

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