Alcohol is now killing Russians in the prime of life at an alarming rate. Over a ten-year period, 52 percent of Russian deaths among people between the ages of 15 to 54 were from alcohol-related causes. This is one of many startling facts from a study conducted by Russian, British and French researchers, and recently published in the British medical journal, The Lancet.
The study was based on a survey of almost 49,000 deaths between the years of 1990 and 2001 among young adult and middle-aged Russians in three Siberian towns. Researchers examined this time period because the restrictions on alcohol sales put into place by Mikhail Gorbachev collapsed in 1987. Left unchecked by government or market controls, Russian alcohol consumption has skyrocketed from the 1990s through today.
The statistics of Russia’s current alcohol problems are staggering:
- • The average Russian drinks 50 bottles of vodka per year.
- • A bottle of beer costs less than a bottle of drinking water.
- • The average life expectancy for Russian men is 60 years, compared with 75 for American men.
- • Russian women have an average life expectancy of 67, compared with 80 for American women.
- • Between 600,000 and 700,000 Russians die each year from alcohol-related causes.
- • About 30 to 50 percent of Russia’s vodka market is illegal.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he was shocked by the recent study and grim statistics on alcohol abuse in his country. He also expressed disappointment that measures to reduce binge-drinking in Russia have had little effect. “This is a centuries-old problem and one cannot hope to solve it overnight,” he said. “Alcoholism in our country is a national disaster.” freshstory