Russian men may want to lay off the vodka shots, because research suggests this may be killing them. A study, in The Lancet, says 25% of Russian men die before they are 55-years-old and most of the deaths are due to alcohol. The comparable UK figure is much lower at 7%.
The causes of death are due to liver disease and alcohol poisoning. Many also die in bar fights and accidents. The study is thought to be the largest kind in the country per BBC.
Researchers from the Russian Cancer Centre in Moscow, Oxford University in the UK and the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, teamed together to track the drinking patterns of 151, 000 adults in three Russian cities for up to 10 years.
During that time period, 8,000 of them passed away. The researchers also drew on previous studies in which families of 49,000 people who died were asked about their family member’s drinking habits.
Study co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto, from the University of Oxford, stated: “Russian death rates have fluctuated wildly over the last 30 years as alcohol restrictions and social stability varied under Presidents Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin, and the main thing driving these wild fluctuations in death was vodka.”
Researchers say alcohol consumption fell by a quarter when Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev drastically cut vodka production, not allowing it to be sold before lunch-time in 1985, and so did overall death rates. When communism collapsed, people started drinking more again and the death rates began to rise.
Sir Richard said: “When President Yeltsin took over from President Gorbachev, the overall death rates in young men more than doubled. This was as society collapsed and vodka became much more freely available.”
“There was a huge increase in drinking and they were drinking in a destructive way. They were getting drunk on spirits and then buying and drinking more, producing a big risk of death.”
“Since the average life expectancy from birth for Russian men is still only 64 years, ranking among the lowest 50 countries in the world, more effective alcohol and tobacco policy measures are urgently needed,” researcher Prof David Zaridze, from the Russian Cancer Research Centre, said.