It is a known fact that vodka is and has always been the drink of choice in Russia.
Vodka is composed primarily of water and ethanol – the distillation of fermented substances such as grains, potatoes, or sometimes fruits or sugar. It is available cheaply and often homemade in small villages.
They say that drinking is so engrained in Russian culture there’s a word that describes a drinking binge that lasts several days: “zapoi.” Other alcohol not meant for drinking, like colognes and antiseptics are also consumed, if nothing else, which makes it even more dangerous for ones health.
Now, a new study has been published in The Lancet journal that the 151,000 adult men subjects from the Russian cities of Banrnaul, Byisk and Tomsk, who admitted smoking and drinking three or more half-liter bottles a week of alcohol, particularly vodka, were found to face a high risk of dying at middle age.
The researchers tracked them down only to find out that from 1999-2010, 8000 of the subjects have died already.
At present, one in four Russian men die before the age of 55, compared with 7% of men in the United Kingdom and less than 1% 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.
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.
“The rate of men dying prematurely in Russia is totally out of line with the rest of Europe,” he said. “There’s also a heavy drinking culture in Finland and Poland but they still have nothing like Russia’s risk of death.”
The study was paid for by the U.K. Medical Research Council in collaboration with the Russian Cancer Research Center and WHO.