American Indian/Alaska Natives Report High Alcohol-Related Deaths

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Nearly 12% of American Indian and Alaska Native deaths over a four-year period were alcohol related, according to a CDC report released on Thursday, AP/USA Today reports. Researchers found after examining death certificates from 2001 to 2005 that 11.7% of deaths -- or 1,514 deaths -- among American Indians and Alaska Natives were alcohol-related. During the same time period, 3.3% of all deaths in the U.S. were related to alcohol. The report also found:

* Traffic accidents and liver disease are the two leading causes of alcohol-related deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives;

* About one-third of alcohol- related deaths in the American Indian/Alaska Native population occurred in the Northern Plains, where reservations are remote and often destitute;


* Alaska had the lowest number of alcohol-related deaths among American Indians/Alaska Natives; and

* More than 68% of American Indian/Alaska Native alcohol-related deaths were among men, 66% were among those younger than age 50 and 7% were among those younger than age 20.

The report did not include deaths related to tuberculosis, pneumonia and colon cancer, conditions for which alcohol is thought to be a risk factor, and as a result "[t]here may be many more alcohol-related deaths than the study shows," AP/USA Today, reports. The report recommends "culturally appropriate clinical interventions" to reduce alcohol abuse and improved integration between tribal health care centers and tribal courts, which often handle alcohol-related crimes (Jalonick, AP/USA Today, 8/28).

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