True cost of Kiwi drinking culture revealed

A new study has shed light on the harm caused by New Zealand's drinking culture, finding one in 20 deaths among people under 80 years old can be blamed on alcohol.

Woman drinking Source: Seven Sharp

The New Zealand Medical Journal published the study that finds alcohol consumption is a major factor in avoidable deaths and contributes substantially to loss of good health.

Its authors estimate that 5.4% of all deaths among people under 80 years old were attributable to alcohol in 2007 in New Zealand.

Alcohol was a factor in the deaths of twice as many men than women, with most of the difference put down to deadly injuries attributable by drinking.

Young men were most likely to be killed on the roads after drinking, with crashes making up half of all alcohol-attributable deaths among 15 to 29 year old men and a third of deaths among 30 to 44 year old men.

Overall, injury was the leading cause of alcohol-related death in New Zealand. However, the leading cause of alcohol-related death in both Māori and non-Māori women was breast cancer.

The study found that in 2007, about 13,769 years of life were lost due to drinking-related deaths in New Zealand.

About 28,403 years of healthy life were lost among Kiwis aged less than 80 years old, with most of the damage caused by addiction or alcohol-attributable cancers.