One in every 25 deaths worldwide can be linked to diseases or injuries related to alcohol consumption, concludes a Canadian-led study, which equates the libation’s burden of harm to that of smoking almost a decade ago.

In 2004, the most recent year for which global statistics are available, 3.8 per cent of all deaths were attributable to alcohol (6.3 per cent for men and 1.8 per cent for women), the study found.

Most of the deaths blamed on booze result from injuries, cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver disorders like cirrhosis and violence, say the authors, whose study is one in a series of papers on the global impact of alcohol published in The Lancet this week.

The high death toll attributed to alcohol is even more startling when viewed in the context of overall global consumption.

“Worldwide, more people abstain than drink,” principal researcher Jurgen Rehm, a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said Thursday.

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