According to new data from Argentina’s Secretary of integral policy on drugs, Argentina consumes the most alcohol per capita of any country in Latin America. The segments of the population whose consumption has increased the most are women and adolescents. Since 2010, women increased their alcohol consumption by 13.5 percent, while the figure for adolescents rose 18.4 percent.
However, data from the World Heath Organization (WHO) found that the trend in alcohol consumption in Argentina is downward sloping since 1961. Yet, the newest study indicates the numerous health risks from alcohol and notes that drinking from an early age is not beneficial to one’s health.
The result follows a statement from the Journal of Clinical Oncology about the cancer risks of alcohol. “As a potentially modifiable risk factor for cancer, addressing high-risk alcohol use is one strategy to reduce the burden of cancer…alcohol drinking is a potentially modifiable risk factor that can be targeted with preventive interventions at both the policy and the individual levels.”
Carlos Damín, the head of Toxicology at Fernández Hospital explained the importance of the report to La Nación. “Without a doubt, Alcohol is far from all other kinds of substance abuse. In my hospital we are seeing close to 2,000 cases of intoxication per year. Between 50 and 51 percent result from excessive consumption of alcohol. The trend for younger people between 12 and 17 to drink in increasing quantities is especially alarming.” Alcohol consumption is associated with 60 diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems, hemorrhagic stroke, obesity, fetal alcohol syndrome, depression, and many others.
The study is especially timely given the government’s recent decision to not increase taxes on certain alcoholic drinks. The initial plan was to increase taxes on beer from eight to 17 percent, and raise taxes on wine from zero to 10 percent. However, lobbying from the industry prevented President Mauricio Macri from bringing the proposal to congress. Other spirits with higher alcohol percentage such as whisky, brandy, vodka, and tequila will have to pay a 28 percent tax, should the tax reform go through as it is right now.