A quarter of all Russian men die before they reach their mid-fifties and their passion for alcohol – particularly vodka – is largely to blame according to a new report.
A study of more than 150,000 people found extraordinarily high premature death rates among males, some of whom admitted drinking three or more bottles a week of Russia’s favourite tipple.
David Zaridze, from the Russian Cancer Research Centre in Moscow, one of the research units behind the study said: “No single country has ever recorded such statistics. Such figures only appear in war time. I call it a demographical crisis.”
For this study, published in the Lancet medical journal, researchers asked 151,000 people how much vodka they drank, and whether they smoked, then monitored them for up to a decade.
Some blame poor social conditions for the situation but others feel it is a storm in a shot glass.
“Excessive drinking is bad, of course. But this being a major cause of death is complete nonsense,” said one Muscovite.
“People drink a lot perhaps because of desperation. If there are no jobs what would you do? Drink,” commented one woman.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, deaths among heavy drinkers were mainly due to alcohol poisoning, accidents, violence and suicide, as well as diseases such as throat and liver cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia, pancreatitis and liver disease.