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Lots of vodka blamed for deaths in Russian men

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 6:12 p.m.
AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) A file picture taken on October 27, 2011, shows men looking at the Vodka-bottle-shaped coffin displayed at the 10th annual Necropolis exhibition in Moscow. A quarter of all Russian men die before they reach their mid-fifties and their passion for vodka, suggested a research by the Russian Cancer Centre in Moscow, Oxford University in the UK and the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, in France. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEVKIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

LONDON — Russian men who down large amounts of vodka — and too many do — have an “extraordinarily” high risk of an early death, a new study says.

Researchers tracked about 151,000 adult men in the Russian cities of Barnaul, Byisk and Tomsk from 1999 to 2010. They interviewed them about their drinking habits, and when about 8,000 died, followed up to monitor their causes of death.

The risk of dying before 55 for those who said they drank three or more half-liter bottles of vodka a week was a shocking 35 percent.

Overall, a quarter of Russian men die before reaching 55, compared with 7 percent of men in the United Kingdom and less than 1 percent in the United States. The life expectancy for men in Russia is 64 years, placing it among the lowest 50 countries in the world in that category.

It's not clear how many Russian men drink three bottles or more a week. Lead researcher Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University said the average Russian adult drinks 20 liters of vodka per year, while the average Briton drinks about three liters of spirits.

“Russians clearly drink a lot, but it's this pattern of getting really smashed on vodka and then continuing to drink that is dangerous,” Peto said.

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