Alcohol or Pot

Judging from how the police acts1, see picture 3, one might be tempted to believe, that alcohol, highway speed and pot are the big killers of today’s society.

And yes, alcoholism is recognized as the most common addiction to day with several hundred millions consuming alcohol on a daily basis. From all people visiting American hospitals one out of three has an alcohol related problem. And yet, very few die from it. Actually, less than 37 persons out of one million die from alcohol use disorders every year in USA2. In comparison more than 100 – or almost three times more – are killed in traffic!3

Overdoses of drugs, like synthetic opioids, kill more than both alcoholism and traffic together, namely 218 per million4. So that is a serious problem, although fewer people are using drugs on a daily basis!

Looking at the chart at picture below, showing annual deaths for the world population5 however, you will understand, that we started out in the wrong end. The causes of our first concern – alcohol and drugs – are to be found way down the list. Even traffic killed (road incidents) come in as low as number 9.

As you can see, the first entry, Cardiovascular diseases, kills as many as one third of all people. What causes these problems, is disputed and of cause subject to intense and expensive studies. It is generally agreed upon though, that lifestyle is a major cause, and that therefore it is to a high degree preventable, simply through changes in said lifestyle:

Some of these risk factors, such as age, sex or family history/genetic predisposition, are immutable; however, many important cardiovascular risk factors are modifiable by lifestyle change, social change, drug treatment.6

The same comes true with the next item on the list: Cancer. Science speaks clearly about lifestyle here:

  • The vast majority of cancer cases are due to environmental risk factors.
  • Many of these environmental factors are controllable lifestyle choices. Thus, cancer is generally preventable.
  • Between 70% and 90% of common cancers are due to environmental factors and therefore potentially preventable.
  • Greater than 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented by avoiding risk factors including: tobacco, excess weight/obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, alcohol, sexually transmitted infections and air pollution.7

And what is more: A big amount of these risk factors are connected to the consumption of the most ordinary things in the world, not exceptionals like vodka or opium. No, it is food! The World Health Organization has produced a paper on how to prevent cancer through dietetic measures8.

Some of these killer substances are refined sugar, flour and low quality fats. A lot more people are addicted to cakes and burgers than to alcohol. You know, most parents hesitate to offer their infants alcohol or opium, but with junk food there does not seem to be such boundaries.






6McPhee S (2012). Current medical diagnosis & treatment. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. pp. 430. ISBN 978-0-07-176372-1.

7 has several referances.