You might not be able to tell from all those beer commercials, but on a global scale, people are actually abstaining from alcohol. Even if the rest of the world isn't downing pints, however, Canadians seem to be drinking on their behalf.
A new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), found Canadians drink more than 50 per cent above the global average. And it's no time to be imbibing — alcohol is now the third leading cause of the global burden of disease and injury.
"The burden of disease and injury is measured when someone dies prematurely or before the life expectancy in a certain country," explains Dr. Jürgen Rehm, study author and director of CAMH's Social and Epidemiological Research Department. This is also impacted by anything that may disable a fully healthy body, for example, losing a body part or organ, he adds.
In 2010, alcohol was responsible for 5.5 per cent of the overall burden, coming in third after high blood pressure and smoking. According to Rehm and his team, these types of injuries and diseases not only include common outcomes like liver cirrhosis (poor liver function) and traffic accidents, but other related diseases like certain types of cancers.
The report also notes that alcohol consumption in 2010 was found to cause more than 200 different types of diseases and injuries — including everything from a slip or fall caused by intoxication to more fatal outcomes like suicide.
In Canada, Rehm says one age group definitely sticks out. The age bracket of 15 to 29-year-olds was Canada's most unhealthy drinkers, defined by the report as drinking above certain limits.
"Most of the harm and most of the death happens to people who drink more than three drinks a day. Or someone who is drinking four or more drinks on a single occasion," he tells The Huffington Post Canada.
Even if these youngsters are partying across campuses and doing the most bar-hopping, Statistics Canada found since 2004, there has been a significant decrease in alcohol consumption among this age group, from 82.9 per cent to 70.8 per cent in 2011.
But Rehm says people in this age group worldwide still suffer the most deaths from alcohol.
Here is what alcohol consumption looks like around the world. Story continues below:
According to a recent CAMH study on unhealthy drinking statistics worldwide, the world's heaviest drinkers live in Europe and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
When it comes to unhealthy alcohol consumption, people in Eastern Europe and Southern Sub-Saharan Africa topped the list. People who live in these regions frequently consume large quantities of booze, drink to get intoxicated, engage in binge drinking, and consume alcohol without meals, according to CAMH.
According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2011 report on alcohol consumption around the world, alcohol abuse causes 2.5 million deaths each year.
Approximately 320,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 29 die from alcohol-related causes each year, according to the WHO.
Alcohol is now the third leading cause of the global burden of diseases and injuries, and in 2010, drinking booze had been linked to 200 different diseases and injuries, according to CAMH.
People in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia consumed the least amount of alcohol, according to CAMH.
Canadians consume more alcohol than the global average. People across North America are more likely to have detrimental drinking patterns and binge drink, according to CAMH.
Excessive alcohol consumption often weakens the immune system, according to the WHO. Harmful alcohol abuse has also been linked to several diseases like HIV/AIDS, STIs and tuberculosis.
Turns out Canadians in general prefer a pint of beer. About 53 per cent of alcohol consumption in Canada is beer, 27 per cent is spirits and 20 per cent is wine, according to the WHO.
In Canada, the highest causes of death linked with alcohol include liver cirrhosis (poor liver function) and road traffic accidents, according to the WHO.
But what are we actually drinking? According to a 2011 study on worldwide alcohol consumption by the World Health Organization (WHO), Canadians preferred to drink beer (at 53 per cent) followed by wine and spirits, while another Canadian-based report found that we were drinking more wine.
But if you're thinking your glass of wine is better than that whiskey sour, Rehm says it's about looking at overall alcohol levels in your drink. And even though many studies have shown the health benefits of red wine for your heart, Rehm adds in the long run, the detrimental effects are worse than the combined beneficial ones.
"We're not telling people they should abstain from alcohol. Basically our message to Canadians is to drink less. Drink less overall and try drinking less in those high-risk occasions," he says.