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Revista Española de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 2173-9110Print version ISSN 1135-5727

Abstract

SARASA-RENEDO, Ana et al. Health and social harm related alcohol. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2014, vol.88, n.4, pp.469-491. ISSN 2173-9110.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4321/S1135-57272014000400004.

Alcohol affects the brain and most organs and systems, and its use is related to a large number of health problems. These include mental, neurological, digestive, cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic, perinatal, cancerous, and infectious diseases, as well as intentional and non-intentional injuries. Physiopathological mechanisms still remain unraveled, though direct toxicity of ethanol and its metabolites, nutritional deficit and intestinal microbial endotoxin absorption have been suggested, all of which would be further modulated by use patterns and genetic and environmental factors. Individually it is difficult to precisely predict who will or will not suffer health consequences. At population level several disorders show a linear or exponential dose-response relationship, as is the case with various cancer types, hepatopathies, injuries, and probably risky behaviors such as unsafe sex. Other health problems such as general mortality in people above 45 years of age, ischemic disease or diabetes mellitus show a J-shaped relationship with alcohol use. The overall effect of alcohol on the global burden of disease is highly detrimental, despite the possible beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease. Large differences are found by country, age, gender, socioeconomic and other factors. Disease burden is mostly related with alcohol's capacity to produce dependence and with acute intoxication. Often alcohol also produces negative consequences for other people (violence, unattended family or work duties, etc) which are generally not taken into account when evaluating burden of disease. The aim of this study was to describe the main alcohol-related social and health harms, as well as their generating mechanisms, using secondary data sources.

Keywords : Alcoholic beverages; Premature mortality; Burden of illness; Cost of illness; Alcohol-related disorders; Injuries; Violence; Social Problems; Review Literature.

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