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Russian men of working age have a poor life expectancy compared with men living in other industrialised countries. More than half die before they reach 65. Widespread alcoholism is at least partly to blame, say researchers, after their case-control study showed that 43% of deaths in men of working age were accounted for by hazardous drinking.
The study focused particularly on the dangers of drinking alcohol from cleaning fluids, medicinal compounds, and other “non-beverage” sources. All are duty free and up to six times cheaper than vodka. In the typical city in the Urals where the study was done, these alternative sources of ethanol were associated with odds ratios for death between 7.0 (95% CI 5.5 to 9.0) and 9.2 (7.2 to 11.7) compared with men who drank sensibly or not at all.
The researchers found a clear dose-response association between frequency of drinking non-beverage alcohols and death, which was largely independent of regular drinking. Men who drank non-beverage alcohol every day had 23 times the odds of death compared with men who drank non-beverage alcohol rarely or never (odds ratio 23.2, 9.3 to 57.8). Perfumes, medicinal potions, and cleaning fluids contain up to 97% ethanol by volume. A typical Russian vodka contains 43%.