According to a study entitled The Socioeconomic Profile of Alcohol-attributable Mortality in South Africa, globally, illness and life expectancy follow a social gradient that puts people of lower socio-economic status (SES) at higher risk of dying prematurely.

Alcohol consumption has been shown to be a factor contributing to socio-economic differences in mortality.

The research study, published by BMC Medicine, sought to quantify mortality attributable to alcohol consumption in individuals 15 years and older from the general population of South Africa in 2015 by SES, age and gender.

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The study has shown that one in 10 deaths in the country can be attributed to alcohol abuse, with men in low-income groups the most at risk.

“Overall, approximately 62 300 adults died from alcohol-attributable causes of death in South Africa in 2015. With a total of approximately 529 400 deaths from all causes in 2015, roughly one in 10 deaths were attributable to alcohol use,” the study finds.

The research paper indicated that South Africa has a large drinking population, with almost half of all adults being current drinkers, although the majority still abstains. It shows that men are bigger drinkers by a wide margin, across all socio-economic levels.

There are a number of high-income drinkers, but the middle- and lower-income groups drink the most and abuse alcohol the most. Data revealed similar indications with women, but at a much lower rate. When looking at mortality rate, it shows that those in the lower socio-economic levels are succumbing to alcohol-related deaths.

“Roughly 60% of all alcohol-attributable deaths occurred in the low socio-economic group. About one-quarter occurred in the middle group and roughly 15% in the high SES group.

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“In the higher socio-economic group, deaths due to chronic diseases constituted the largest subcategory of alcohol-attributable deaths. In the middle-income group, chronic and infectious diseases contributed approximately the same number of deaths.

“In the low-income group, the majority of the alcohol-attributable deaths occurred due to infectious diseases.”

The research revealed that the number of people dying from alcohol-related causes is much higher than the previous estimate of 7% in 2010.