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March 29, 2011

Alcoholism in the countries of the old Soviet Union not because of Chernobyl

Some people try to blame alcoholism deaths in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus on Chernobyl. Alcoholism causes about half of all premature the deaths in Russia.

Alcohol has been a very important part of Russia’s social history since around the 10th century AD. Nearly every class and both genders appeared to over indulge regularly. Effectively, there was a culture of alcohol use that has continued into modern times

The main difference between alcohol consumption in Russia vs. other countries was that the vast majority (as much as 90%) was hard liqueur like vodka (other countries favored wine or beer), and the consumption occurred in binges. Modern studies show that this type of alcoholic beverage is more damaging and many times more quickly addicting.

Because alcohol provided an excellent source of revenue, drinking was often encouraged throughout Russia. In the mid 1500s, for example, many towns built a spirit production house the monies from which went right to the treasury. By the 19th century about 33% of government money came from the sale of alcohol.

Alcohol and alcoholism in Russia continues to influence the overall morality, crime rates, social behavior and legislation.A Mikhail Gorbachev enacted an anti-alcohol campaign in 1985 that was successful for about a year, during which time male life expectancy improved by 2 years. Sadly like the prohibition in the US, it ended up spurring even greater amounts of alcohol consumption in Russia (particularly illegally made beverages), followed by a decrease of three years in life expectancy by 1993.

The fall of the Soviet Union prevented the state government from having communist control which was keeping alcoholism under some restraint.

The fact that so many in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are alcoholics (50 bottles of vodka per year on average) is ridiculous to blame on Chernobyl. There was alcoholism before and there was alcoholism after. The difference was that there was Soviet control before and there was not Soviet control after.



Ukraine also had an anti-alcohol campaign from 1985-1988

Ukraine experienced a large mortality reduction during the (1985-1988 anti-alcohol) campaign. The estimates of prevented deaths revealed that at least 76% of the mortality reduction was attributable to alcohol. Alcohol-related mortality due to injuries is much higher for men, while coronary heart disease (CHD) alcohol-attributable fractions were about 0.5 in middle age both for men and women. Discussion and Conclusions. While in Western countries alcohol is considered as a protective factor for CHD, in Ukraine alcohol-related cardiovascular mortality is rather high. In 2004 in Ukraine total number of alcohol-related deaths was about 119,000 or 251 per 100,000 of population

Smoking and other causes of death in the Ukraine 1990-2007


About 50-60% of men in the Ukraine are smokers

Alcohol caused the premature death of about 40% of men in the Ukraine.

As I noted in my article on lifetime energy deaths per TWh, if you don't get to a 2 year life shortening (like being 15% overweight) then I do not count it because it is in the noise. So taking a bit more salt that has iodine in it will not have a measurable impact on life spans.

For my annual deaths from energy per TWh, people have to die in the years being examined. It may have been from pollution or causes over many years, but they have to die and have that death caused by one of the energy sources in that year.


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