(Image source from: BBC)
Alcohol is being the chief cause of deaths in India, as it kills about 2.6 lakh Indians each year either by causing cancer, liver cirrhosis or leading to road accidents caused by drunk driving.
The global status report released by World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday stressed the link between alcohol and health troubles, prompting health experts to demand a national alcohol control policy on the lines of the tobacco policy.
"As health is a state subject, various states follow different rules," said oral cancer surgeon from Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi.
The legal average age bound for alcohol consumption is 25 years in Maharashtra, it is 18 for certain drinks in Goa. "It is time for a Central law to standardize norms for alcohol use across the country," he said.
The WHO report said, alcohol kills about 6,000 people daily across the world, while 28 percent of these deaths are due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm, and violence, 21 percent are due to digestive disorders, 19 percent due to cardiovascular diseases, and the residual due to cancers, infectious diseases, mental disorders and some other health conditions.
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While liver cirrhosis is the biggest health problem posed by alcohol use, with 1.4 lakh deaths every year, about 1 lakh deaths that take place on India's roads every year are indirectly related to alcohol abuse. Another 30,000 deaths among cancer patients yearly can as well be traced to use of alcohol, which was long ago declared as Group 1 carcinogen by WHO.
"Heavy episodic (binge) drinking among teenagers is one of the gravest challenges highlighted in the report," said Dr. Monika Arora of Public Health Foundation of India.