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Alcohol Responsible for 1 in 20 Deaths Worldwide: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its global status report on alcohol and health for 2018, and their findings conclude that more than 1 in 20 deaths worldwide can be attributed to alcohol. Most of these deaths were among men, WHO said.

Injuries, including traffic crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence, caused 28 percent of the deaths; digestive and cardiovascular events caused 21 percent; and cancers, infectious diseases and other health conditions caused the rest. The WHO also mentioned that 237 million men and 46 million women globally suffer from alcohol disorders — and it’s expected that global consumption of alcohol will increase in the next decade.

While most people who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or maybe a beer or cocktail with friends, don’t imbibe to the point that the WHO is talking about, it’s still a concern, as it’s the ramifications are preventable. If for no other reason, it would be wise to limit your alcohol consumption simply because binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

This is because of the way amyloid beta is cleared in your brain. Amyloid beta is a protein implicated in Alzheimer's disease that can clump together in the brain, building up into groups of clumps or a sticky plaque that may disrupt cell-to-cell signaling. Admittedly, these tests were performed in isolated rat cells — which could mean real-life alcohol consumption in humans may lead to a different result — they still suggest that alcohol may hinder the microglia's ability to clear amyloid beta, thereby increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Drinking heavily is also known to harm your brain in such a way that it can lead to alcohol-related brain damage known as alcoholic dementia. However, unlike Alzheimer's, if you stop drinking alcohol it's possible to recover, fully or partially, from alcoholic dementia.

If you're a social drinker who perhaps could benefit from cutting back on your drinking, consider taking N-acetylcysteine (NAC). NAC is a form of the amino acid cysteine and is known to help increase glutathione and reduce the acetaldehyde toxicity that causes many hangover symptoms. In addition, NAC is known to reduce alcohol consumption and withdrawal symptoms in rodents and cut down cravings in humans.

If you believe you have an alcohol use disorder (alcoholism), seek professional help. If you drink excessively on occasion and would like to cut back, you can try keeping track of how much you drink and setting limits on how much (or little) to consume. You should also avoid places, activities and even people who may tempt you to drink and seek out new positive hobbies and friendships to replace them.

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