"Everything in moderation" appears to be a phrase the Europeans are willing to ignore. A new report shows the average European puts away between one and four drinks a day, enough to notably increase the risk of colorectal and esophageal cancers. Americans drink 20 percent less alcohol each year than Europeans.
“The majority of people aren’t aware that alcohol is a risk factor in these cancers,” said Professor Helena Cortez-Pinto, a gastroenterologist at Hospital Universitário de Santa Maria in Lisbon. “This epidemiological evidence is clear about the association.”
As Bloomberg reports, United European Gastroenterology, a nonprofit coalition of specialists, analyzed data collated by the World Health Organization, which shows that Europeans drink more than people on any other continent, an average of 11.2 liters of alcohol per year—the equivalent of just under two drinks a day.
Americans drink 20 percent less alcohol each year than Europeans, while the average African drinks half the amount. One in every five Europeans over the age of 15 drinks “heavily”—more than four alcoholic drinks—at least once a week.
The American Cancer Society supported the report’s findings, pointing to comments on its website that note “limiting alcohol use to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women could have many health benefits, including a lower risk of colorectal cancer.”
And while the risks are now clear, one nation stands out in Europe... Lithuania holds the unenviable crown of Europe’s heaviest drinkers, downing 3.2 alcoholic drinks per day, or 18.2 liters of pure alcohol per person per year. By comparison, drinkers in the U.S. are practically teetotaling, drinking the equivalent of 1.6 drinks a day.
Lithuania’s government recently passed sweeping reforms of its alcohol laws, which will take effect Jan. 1. The country will ban alcohol advertising, raise the drinking age to 20 from 18, and outlaw alcohol sales between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.
Egle Leskauskaite, 17, will now have to wait until July 2020 to drink legally, and she said that making alcohol illegal could perversely make it more attractive.
“It’s annoying because it’s not going to help Lithuanian people stop drinking,” she said.
“If people want to drink they’ll find a way to buy it.”