If consumed in excess, alcoholic beverages increase exposure to a wide range of risk factors, where the risk rises with the amount of alcohol consumed. Consequently, it is crucial to prevent abusive consumption, and the wine sector is committed to promoting moderation when consuming alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol-related harm resulting from abuse and misuse is a serious concern. Harmful and hazardous consumption of alcoholic beverages is one of the main causes of premature death and avoidable disease. One in four deaths amongst young men (aged 15-29 years) and one in ten deaths amongst young women is related to the harmful use of alcoholic beverages. Causes of death include road traffic accidents, injuries, violence and liver disease. It is the net cause of 7.4% of all ill-health and premature deaths in the EU, and impacts negatively on productivity.
Alcohol abuse has also been associated with a range of long-term chronic diseases that reduce the quality of life. These include hypertension, cardiovascular problems, cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol dependence, various forms of cancer, alcohol-related brain damage and a range of other problems.
In addition to health issues resulting from excessive alcohol consumption, there are social consequences, both for the drinker and for others in the community. The consequences include harm to family members (including children), to friends and colleagues as well as to bystanders and strangers, i.e. people being harassed by intoxicated individuals. Alcohol misuse also affects professional lives, with nearly 5% of men and 2% of women in the EU-15 reporting a negative impact of alcohol on their work or studies.