4. Alcohol-related causes of death made an upturn

Alcohol-related causes have for several years been the most common cause of death for both working-age men and women, and the figures are high for the whole population as well. Alcohol-related deaths include both alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol.

The most significant reason for high alcohol mortality is increased consumption of alcohol over the past decades. Since 2007, total alcohol consumption has decreased, however. In 2012, it was for the first time in nearly a decade below 10 of 100% alcohol per capita (National Institute for Health and Welfare 2013). Changes in alcohol-related mortality has followed fairly regularly the graph for total consumption of alcoholic beverages even though alcohol-related deaths usually call for long-term detrimental use of alcohol that lasts for several years. The decrease in the number of alcohol-related deaths that had continued for a few years stopped in 2012, and the number of persons that died from alcohol-related causes grew by close on four per cent from 2011. A total of 1,960 persons died from alcohol-related causes, 1,518 men and 442 women. The changes in the number of deaths from alcohol-related causes between 2009 and 2012 were mainly caused by changes in men's deaths from alcohol-related causes.

Figure 5. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol and total consumption of alcohol in 1970 to 2012

Figure 5. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol and total consumption of alcohol in 1970 to 2012

Men's mortality from alcohol-related causes is clearly more common than that of women (Figure 6). Men's mortality has also more closely followed changes in total alcohol consumption. Female mortality has, however, risen evenly along with men over several decades.

One-fifth of all alcohol-related deaths (375 persons) were caused by alcohol poisoning and the rest from diseases caused by alcohol (1,585 persons), mainly liver and heart disease. Seventy-six per cent of those dying from alcohol poisonings were men. The biggest group of people that die from alcohol-related causes are middle-aged men: of deceased men aged 45 to 49, the cause of death of one in four was alcohol.

A majority of those who died from alcohol-related causes were of working age and only one in four (24%) were over the age of 65. The share of aged people among deaths from alcohol-related causes is increasing. In 2012, the share was seven percentage points higher than ten years ago. In the past twenty years, the mortality from alcohol-related causes among those aged 65 or over has nearly doubled.

Alcohol can also be a contributing factor to death. The share of intoxication in accidents will be discussed in the following section.

Figure 6. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol in 1970 to 2012

Figure 6. Age-standardised mortality from alcohol-related diseases and accidental poisonings by alcohol in 1970 to 2012

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 09 1734 3605, Kati Taskinen 09 1734 3297, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 30.12.2013

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2012, 4. Alcohol-related causes of death made an upturn . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 15.10.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2012/ksyyt_2012_2013-12-30_kat_004_en.html