London : Russian men who down large amounts of vodka and too many do have an “extraordinarily” high risk of an early death, a new study says.
Researchers tracked about 151,000 adult men in the Russian cities of Barnaul, Byisk and Tomsk from 1999 to 2010. They interviewed them about their drinking habits and, when about 8,000 later died, followed up to monitor their causes of death.
The risk of dying before age 55 for those who said they drank three or more half-litre bottles of vodka a week was a shocking 35 per cent. Overall, a quarter of Russian men die before reaching 55, compared with 7 per cent of men in the United Kingdom and less than 1 per cent in the United States. The life expectancy for men in Russia is 64 years, placing it among the lowest 50 countries in the world in that category. It’s not lear how many Russian men drink three bottles or more a week. Lead researcher Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University said the average Russian adult drinks 20 litres of vodka per year while the average Briton drinks about three litres of spirits.
“Russians clearly drink a lot, but it’s this pattern of getting really smashed on vodka and then continuing to drink that is dangerous,” Peto said. “The rate of men dying prematurely in Russia is totally out of line with the rest of Europe,” he said. “There’s also a heavy drinking culture in Finland and Poland but they still have nothing like Russia’s risk of death.”
Alcohol has long been a top killer in Russia and vodka is often the drink of choice, available cheaply and often homemade in small villages.