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Low alcohol intake can reduce NCDs — Experts

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By Usman Oladimeji

Reduction in beer consumption is attributed to the rise in prices.

Health professionals assert that the decrease in alcohol consumption due to economic difficulties in the country may actually be a blessing in guise. This reduction is expected to lower the chances of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigerians. The experts also anticipate that lower alcohol intake will have a positive impact on the fight against alcoholism, particularly benefiting individuals with a history of cardiovascular issues. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria, attributing 27 percent of deaths in the country to NCDs.

According to WHO, in 2021, the mortality rate for four common NCDs (Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Respiratory Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes) was 565 per 100,000 for males and 546 for females for age-standardized. A recent report from the Nigerian Breweries Plc has revealed that the significant decrease in beer consumption among Nigerians is attributed to the increase in prices of alcohol products. This rise in prices has rendered the products unaffordable to a large portion of the population, prompting them to prioritize spending on food instead.

Alcohol consumption can result in early death and disability.

The company’s report expressed concern over a sharp decrease in profit margins, attributing it to the economic difficulties faced by Nigerians, causing a decline in beer affordability. On February 19, 2024, Hans Essaadi, the CEO of Nigerian Breweries, discussed the challenging economic conditions in Nigeria that had reached a point where citizens were unable to purchase beer. He mentioned that after the company released its 2023 report, an investor contacted them to acknowledge the unprecedented year that had passed for their operations in Nigeria.

Reportedly, the company experienced a notable decrease in sales in the regular lager sector due to Nigerian customers being unable to purchase a Goldberg to unwind after a long day. A separate study indicated that popular beer brands among middle and low-income individuals have surged in price from ₦400, ₦500, and ₦600 to ₦700, ₦800, ₦900, and ₦1,000 per bottle. The price variation is influenced by where the purchase is made, as prices vary depending on the location. During an exclusive interview with the media, experts highlighted that alcohol / consumption can result in early death and disability.

Doctors have long advocated for higher taxes on alcohol.

It was observed that approximately 13.5 percent of deaths in individuals between the ages of 20 and 39 are linked to alcohol consumption. Olufemi Fasanmade, a Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology at the University of Lagos College of Medicine in Idi-Araba, Lagos, believes that the decrease in alcohol tax is a positive step forward. He explains that doctors have long advocated for higher taxes on alcohol to curb excessive consumption. Reducing alcohol intake can have positive effects on individuals with medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory issues, and cancer, according to his statement.

Fasanmade recommended that individuals should opt for water over other beverages, emphasizing its affordability and safety. Supporting this stance, Professor Tanimola Akande from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in Kwara State highlighted that the increased alcohol prices leading to decreased consumption among Nigerians may actually be a positive outcome. Reducing alcohol intake due to the economic crisis can result in improved health outcomes. Lowering alcohol consumption is linked to decreased risk of noncommunicable diseases, ultimately reducing the overall disease burden associated with alcohol intake.

Related Article: Nigeria needs urgent intervention on alcohol

Also, it is observed that drinking alcohol can result in engaging in unsafe sexual activities, putting individuals at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and experiencing unintended pregnancies. Therefore, decreasing its intake could effectively lower the incidence of these situations. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that alcohol consumption can exacerbate conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver issues, and digestive disorders. Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of various types of cancers such as breast, mouth, throat, oesophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum, while also compromising the immune system and causing a vulnerability to illness.

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WHO: Website

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