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High rates of vodka consumption to blame for early deaths for Russian men

Vodka consumption is part of the culture in Russia
Flickr Creative Commons, Fabio Penna

A Russian study released on Thursday determined that men who drink too much vodka too many times have an “extraordinarily” high risk of an early death. Though that seems to be common sense, the term “extraordinarily” is what the study calls attention to.

Researchers interviewed 151,000 men in three different Russian cities about their drinking habits and then tracked them from 1999 until 2010. During that time, 8,000 of them died and researchers followed up on the cause of death.

Overall, 25 percent of Russian men die before age 55. In the United States, only 7 percent of men die before reaching that age. AP notes that Russia has one of the lowest life expectancies for men in the world, with the average life expectancy being only 64 years of age.

For men who consumed three or more half-liters of vodka per week, the risk of dying was found to be 35 percent. Lead researcher Sir Richard Peto notes how out of sync Russia’s drinking habits are when compared to the rest of Europe. He noted that the average Russian man drinks 20 liters of vodka per year compared to the Brit’s average of three liters per year. He also notes that Russia’s risk of death beats out countries that also have a similar drinking culture, like Finland and Poland.

Professor David Leon, who works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, noted that consuming liquor instead of beer is especially dangerous. Though changing the drinking habits of Russians could be possible, though changing an entire culture’s habit seems pretty daunting.

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