4. Alcohol mortality diminished further

Deaths related to the use of alcohol grew relatively evenly in Finland from the 1980s until 2003, after which deaths from alcohol-related causes increased by around one-quarter within a few years. The slow decrease in the number of deaths from alcohol-related causes that started in 2008 continued in 2014. In 2014, mortality from alcohol is lower than ten years earlier. In 2014, good 1,800 persons died from alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings. Of them, 1,400 were men and 400 women.

The most significant reason for high alcohol mortality is increased consumption of alcohol over the 2000s. Since 2007, total alcohol consumption has decreased, however. In 2014, converted to 100% alcohol, total consumption was 9.3 litres per capita (National Institute for Health and Welfare 2015). Changes in alcohol-related mortality has followed fairly regularly the graph for total consumption of alcoholic beverages even though alcohol-related deaths usually call for long-term detrimental use of alcohol that lasts for several years. The changes in the number of deaths from alcohol-related causes between 2009 and 2014 were mainly caused by changes in men's deaths from alcohol-related causes.

Alcohol-related deaths include both alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol. Diseases related to long-term alcohol use, such as liver and heart diseases, cause a majority of deaths from alcohol-related causes. The share of alcohol poisonings in deaths from alcohol-related causes has decreased from 26 to 15 per cent over a ten-year period. In 2014, a total of 275 persons died from alcohol poisonings, of whom 79 per cent were men.

Several different diseases and alcohol poisonings have been collected into alcohol-related causes of death. The significance of the cause of death group is smaller than that of the main groups of neoplasms and the circulatory system. However, more working-age persons die of alcohol-related causes than of individual neoplasm types or ischaemic heart diseases. Alcohol is also a contributing factor to death in many fatal accidents.

Figure 6. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol and total consumption of alcohol in 1971 to 2014

Figure 6. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol and total consumption of alcohol in 1971 to 2014

Men die from alcohol-related causes considerably more often than women (Figure 7). Male mortality has also followed more closely changes in total consumption of alcohol. Women are lagging behind in alcohol statistics but women's mortality from alcohol-related causes has also risen evenly over several decades following men's mortality from alcohol-related causes.

Persons who died from alcohol-related causes are older than before. During the past ten years, mortality from alcohol among both men and women aged 65 or over has grown considerably faster than in younger age groups and has increased nearly 1.5-fold. A majority, or nearly seven out of ten, of those who died from alcohol-related causes are still of working-age. The share of aged people among deaths from alcohol-related causes is increasing, however. In 2014, the average age of men dying of alcohol-related causes was 59 years and that of women 62 years. The share of persons aged over 65 has grown by 15 percentage points over the past ten years from 17 to 32 per cent.

In 2014, the share of alcohol-related causes in all deaths was four per cent. Alcohol-related causes of death are more common for middle-aged people than for retirement-age people because the mortality in younger age groups as a whole is clearly lower than for older age groups. Among men who died between the ages of 45 and 54, alcohol-related causes were the cause of death for one-in-four, or 26 per cent and among those who died between the ages of 65 and 74 it was clearly lower at five per cent.

In addition to the underlying cause of death, alcohol is a contributing factor to death in many fatal accidents. The share of intoxication in accidents will be discussed in the following section.

Figure 7. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol in 1971 to 2014

Figure 7. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol in 1971 to 2014

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 30.12.2015

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2014, 4. Alcohol mortality diminished further . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 12.12.2018].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2014/ksyyt_2014_2015-12-30_kat_004_en.html