Russia’s High Mortality Rates Directly Related to Drinking Vodka

In the first comprehensive study of its kind, researchers tracked the drinking habits of 151,000 Russians over a decade. They noticed a strong correlation between overconsumption of alcohol and early death. Russia’s life expectancy rate is shockingly low, “with one quarter of Russian men dying before age 55.” NPR reports on findings that show how mortality correlates to government policies, with death rates dropping dramatically during periods of increased restriction on alcohol. For instance, “When the Soviet Union put prohibition in place in the mid-1980s under Mikhail Gorbachev, alcohol use dropped 25 percent. Death rates among men under 55 dropped.” Though social attitudes toward drinking have not shifted dramatically, the country is currently experiencing lower mortality rates now that vodka is more tightly regulated under Vladimir Putin, which has been, perhaps, one of the leader’s few gifts to Mother Russia. [NPR]