While the United States is currently dealing with the ongoing opioid epidemic, a new study suggests that everyday substances could be more fatal for a person's health. Researchers have discovered that smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol take away more years off a person's life than using any illegal substance.
Tobacco And Alcohol vs Drugs
The team of researchers led by Amy Peacock, who is a psychologist from the Australia National Drug and Research Centre, studied the effects of death and disease that are related to substance abuse. Their findings were based on combined information from World Health Organization, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
According to the University College London, tobacco has attributed to 110 deaths per 100,000 people worldwide. Alcohol was responsible for at least 33 in 100,000 deaths. At least 1 in 5 adults heavily drink alcohol daily, and 15 percent smoke cigarettes every day. This information was compared to the 6.9 deaths per 100,000 that was due to cocaine and the 0.35 percent of people who use cocaine.
More results showed that only 3.8 percent of people use marijuana, 0.37 percent used amphetamines, and 0.35 percent used opioids in the past year.
The World Health Organization, WHO, stated that one DALY, disability-adjusted life year, as one year lost from a healthy person's life. Based on the statistics that was collected globally, in 2015, at least 170 million DALYs were attributed to tobacco, and 85 million DALYs were due to alcohol.
Human Life Lost
The report also revealed that people with high income in North America, Australia, and New Zealand had the highest rates of using illegal substance, such as marijuana, opioids, and cocaine. In 2015, at 52,000 Americans lost their lives due to an overdose on opioids, prescription or illegal. However, in Europe, alcohol and tobacco consumption was higher than other countries.
In the past, experts have suggested that Europeans were at a higher risk of getting certain cancers due to their excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco. However, the researchers stressed that their findings are limited, as the information gathered did not include other countries.
"Europeans proportionately suffered more but in absolute terms, the mortality rate was greatest in low and middle-income countries with large populations and where the quality of data was more limited," the authors of the study commented.
The study, which was published on May 11 in the journal Addiction, would need more geographical data collected for it to be more beneficial, the researchers suggested.