A team of scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital have published a study which hypothesises an increase in deaths due to increased and excessive alcohol consumption during the pandemic period. Binge drinking increased by 21% during the Covid-19 pandemic and an additional 100 deaths from alcohol-related liver problems and 2800 case of liver failure were predicted by 2023.
Sustained alcohol consumption for more than one year could increase the risk of death by as much as 19-35% researchers discovered.
The scientists simulated the drinking trajectories and liver disease trends in all U.S. adults. The study, published in the 'Hepatology Journal' estimated that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption during the Covid-19 pandemic will result in 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, 18,700 cases of liver failure, and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040.
The findings of the modelling study would hopefully lead to action "at all levels" of society regarding the use of unhealthy coping mechanisms for stress and how it affected the short and long-term health prospects of the American population, said lead author Jovan Julien, MS, a data analyst at the MGH Institute for Technology Assessment and a PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"Our findings highlight the need for individuals and policymakers to make informed decisions to mitigate the impact of high-risk alcohol drinking during the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S.," said senior author Jagpreet Chhatwal, PhD, associate director of MGH's Institute for Technology Assessment and an assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.
The World Health Organisation had already released several missives on the "deleterious effect" of alcohol on mind and body, warning that alcohol could reduce immune response as well as create a toxic frame of mind that could increase susceptibility to suicidal thought and self-harm if used as a coping mechanism for those stressed by lockdowns and restrictions or loss of jobs.