An “important cause of death”. These are the words researchers are using to label alcohol’s health effects as they study it in North, Central and South America. Quickly, leaders from the Pan American Health Organization (based in Washington D.C.) are learning that alcohol acts as a contributing agent to chronic disease – compounding heart, liver and brain disorders.
Surely they mean to express that without alcohol, many of these deaths would never have occurred so prematurely. Yet ‘important cause of death’ could also mean ‘something very important that requires action’. Or, something that here-to-now was not fully understood in regards to how it damages the human body and creates stress on individuals and society.
In this light, this research highlighted in a CBC News article also speaks on how alcohol connects with depression, mental illness, dependence and violence. Following up on this research, and mirroring similar discussions in Canada, leaders are beginning to discuss how some of these harms can be limited by social policies, taxation and distribution.
More and more, we learn how alcohol contributes to harm, especially to vulnerable populations. Isn’t it time we did something about it? What would be the best first step forward?