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Alcohol drinkers three times as likely to die from injury

People who regularly drink alcohol are three times as likely to die from injury as are non-drinkers and former drinkers of alcohol, according to new research from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This is the first study to examine drinking behavior in relation to all major categories of injuries. In particular, the study authors found that the risk of drowning was most strongly related to current drinkers. The study will be published in the March 2005 issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention.

"Previous studies have focused on the effect of acute alcohol use on the risk of injury. We looked at the relationship between a person's usual drinking behavior and the major categories of fatal injury," said Li-Hui Chen, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management.

The researchers reviewed data from two nationwide surveys: 5,549 people who died of injury and were included in the 1993 National Mortality Followback Survey, and 42,698 people who participated in the 1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. The Hopkins researchers examined the relationship between usual drinking behavior and the major categories of injury: motor vehicle injuries; unintentional falls, fire deaths, drowning and poisoning; suicide by poisoning, firearm and hanging, strangulation or suffocation; firearm-related homicide; and other homicide.

The researchers found that drinkers, defined as anyone who had at least 12 drinks in the survey year, had a higher risk of dying from each cause of injury when compared to non-drinkers and former drinkers. The greatest increase in risk was for drowning: drinkers were 3.6 times as likely to drown as non-drinkers. The researchers also learned that female drinkers had a greater increase in risk of committing suicide or homicide than male drinkers. The study authors s
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Contact: Kenna L. Lowe
paffairs@jhsph.edu
410-955-6878
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
10-Feb-2005


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