Author(s): Corrao G, Ferrari P, Zambon A, Torchio P
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: A striking reduction of alcohol-related problems, such as liver cirrhosis death rates, has been observed in many western countries in recent years. It might be expected that these declines are accompanied by a lagged reduction in per capita alcohol consumption, since many years of intake are required for cirrhosis of the liver to develop (lag theory). The main aim of this study is to verify the validity of the lag theory, taking as target populations those resident in European countries. METHOD: Changes in liver cirrhosis death rates in 22 European countries between 1970 and 1089 were regressed onto changes in per capita alcohol consumption (1961-89) to evaluate the latency period between trends of these variables. RESULTS: Eastern countries had a latency period between trends in alcohol consumption and in mortality rates of many years, whereas in northern, western and southern Europe cirrhosis mortality rates were explained by their relationship with per capita alcohol consumption, which lagged a few years. In some countries, an immediate contemporary appearance of the two phenomena was observed. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that the lag theory cannot fully explain the relationship between changing alcohol consumption and cirrhosis mortality and that other factors, such as alcoholism treatment rates, are involved in the wide geographical variability of the latency periods.
This article was published in J Stud Alcohol
and referenced in Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences