According to a new research, the high number of early deaths in Russia is mainly due to people drinking too much alcohol, particularly vodka.
The study findings, published in The Lancet, show that 25% of Russian men die before they are 55, and most of the deaths are down to alcohol.
Causes of death include liver disease and alcohol poisoning. Many also die in accidents or after getting into fights.
The study is thought to be the largest of its kind in the country.
Researchers from the Russian Cancer Centre in Moscow, Oxford University in the UK and the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, in France, tracked the drinking patterns of 151,000 adults in three Russian cities over up to 10 years.
During that time, 8,000 of them died. The researchers also drew on previous studies in which families of 49,000 people who had died were asked about their loved ones’ drinking habits.
Study co-author Prof. Sir Richard Peto, from the University of Oxford, said: “Russian death rates have fluctuated wildly over the last 30 years as alcohol restrictions and social stability varied under Presidents Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin, and the main thing driving these wild fluctuations in death was vodka.”
In 1985, the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev drastically cut vodka production and did not allow it to be sold before lunch-time.
The high number of early deaths in Russia is mainly due to people drinking too much alcohol, particularly vodka
Researchers say alcohol consumption fell by around a quarter when the restrictions came in, and so did overall death rates. Then, when communism collapsed, people started drinking more again and the death rates also rose.
Richard Peto said: “When President Yeltsin took over from President Gorbachev, the overall death rates in young men more than doubled. This was as society collapsed and vodka became much more freely available.
“There was a huge increase in drinking and they were drinking in a destructive way. They were getting drunk on spirits and then buying and drinking more, producing a big risk of death.”
The consumption rates for women also fluctuated according to political events, but they drank less so mortality rates were also lower.
Most drinkers were smokers as well which researchers say “aggravated” the death rates.
Russia brought in stricter alcohol control measures in 2006, including raising taxes and restricting sales.
Researchers say alcohol consumption has fallen by a third since then and the proportion of men dying before they reach 55 years old has fallen from 37% to 25%.
Half a litre of vodka costs around $5.00 (150 roubles). Heavy drinkers in this study were getting through at least a litre and a half of vodka a week.
In 2011, each Russian adult drank on average 13 litres of pure alcohol every year, of which eight litres was in spirits, mainly vodka.
Researchers say the key problem driving the high death rate is the way Russians drink alcohol.
Researcher Prof. David Zaridze, from the Russian Cancer Research Centre, said: “They binge drink. That’s the main problem. It’s the pattern of drinking not the per-capita amount they are drinking.”
“Russians have always drunk a lot. They sometimes say it’s because of the cold weather but this is just an excuse. This is the nation’s lifestyle that needs to change.
“Since the average life expectancy from birth for men in Russia is still only 64 years, ranking among the lowest 50 countries in the world, more effective alcohol and tobacco policy measures are urgently needed.”
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Two elephants have been saved from the deadly Siberian cold by drinking vodka, officials say.
They say the elephants had to be taken out into the bitter cold after the wooden trailer they were travelling in caught fire in the Novosibirsk region.
The elephants, aged 45 and 48, suffered frostbite to the tips of their ears amid temperatures of -40C (-40F).
But they were warmed up by two cases of vodka mixed with warm water, one official was quoted as saying.
“They started roaring like if they were in the jungle! Perhaps, they were happy,” the official told Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency.
Two elephants have been saved from the deadly Siberian cold by drinking vodka
The animals continued their recovery in a heated garage of a local college where they were brought by a truck under police escort.
The elephants belong to a Polish circus, which has been touring the region, reports say.
Like with humans, alcohol can make animals feel warmer but it actually lowers their core body temperature, scientists say.
But Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper quoted Novosibirsk zoo director Rostislav Shilo as saying that the elephants were not harmed or intoxicated by the vodka, and that without it they would have died of hypothermia or pneumonia.
Lindsay Lohan has apparently been downing up to two litres of vodka a day for the past two months, culminating in her early morning arrest on Thursday after a drink-addled nightclub brawl in New York.
According to insiders, Lindsay Lohan, 26, has been in turmoil over her worrying financial situation and impending probation violation, stemming from her June car crash.
On Thursday things came to a dramatic head when Lindsay Lohan allegedly assaulted psychic Tiffany Eve Mitchell at Manhattan’s Avenue nightclub.
According to TMZ, Lindsay Lohan had been drinking all day on Wednesday prior to the incident but denies punching the psychic.
The website also claim that Lindsay Lohan admitted that she did call Tiffany Mitchell a gypsy but she was unaware the term was a slur.
According to sources, Tiffany Mitchell had approached Lindsay Lohan to give her a reading but Lohan declined the offer. Then the Mean Girls actress was told that Tiffany Mitchell’s friends had stolen her purse and that is when she confronted her and called her gypsy.
Lindsay Lohan had earlier arrived to Justin Bieber’s New York concert that night already inebriated, to watch support act The Wanted, the website claims.
Apparently 24-year-old Max George, one of the members of the British boyband who Lindsay Lohan has a crush on, was also implicated in the cat fight. Lindsay Lohan is said to have lashed out at 28-year-old Tiffany Mitchell for flirting with Max George.
Lindsay Lohan drank up to two litres of vodka a day before nightclub catfight with Tiffany Mitchell
Lindsay Lohan is also said to be depressed after her TV movie Liz & Dick bombed – and was met with scathing reviews from critics – only adding to her woes, Radar reports.
An insider told TMZ how Lindsay Lohan – who has struggled with addiction and been banned from drinking by a court order in the past – will sometimes kick off her day with a drink and carry on into the evening.
Her excessive drinking is said to be affecting her relationship with her friends “because of the violent tantrums alcohol triggers”.
Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan’s alleged victim Tiffany Mitchell was spotted out in New York on Friday, and went for a meeting with powerhouse attorney and feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, who has played a part in many of America’s most high profile cases over nearly four decades.
Gloria Allred was involved in the OJ Simpson trial, represented Spice Girl Mel B in her paternity battle with Eddie Murphy and Tiger Woods’ mistress Rachel Uchitel among many others.