Alcohol-Related Deaths and Hospitalizations by Race, Gender, and Age in California

Mandy Stahre*, 1, Michele Simon2
1 Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, USA
2 Marin Institute, San Rafael, CA, USA

© 2010Stahre et al..

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, USA ; Tel: 612-625-2022;E-mail:



Excessive alcohol use is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States each year and responsible for about 10,000 deaths in California alone. In addition, excessive alcohol use is responsible for many hospitalizations due to injuries and illnesses. Alcohol consumption is known to differ by age, sex, and race/ethnicity and these consumption patterns can lead to differences in alcohol-related outcomes.


Using data from a variety of sources, alcohol-attributable deaths and nonfatal hospitalizations for illnesses and injuries were calculated for California for the year 2006.


Excessive alcohol use resulted in over 10,000 deaths and 72,000 nonfatal hospitalizations in California. The majority of consequences (51%) were due to chronic illnesses associated with long-term excessive use of alcohol. Overall, males reported more deaths and nonfatal hospitalizations due to excessive alcohol use than women. Alcohol-attributable deaths and hospitalizations are more likely to occur among individuals aged 50-64 years for illnesses and individuals aged 20-34 years for injuries. Older individuals suffered from more chronic conditions such as alcoholic liver disease, while younger individuals were more likely to suffer from injuries, the most common being motor-vehicle traffic crashes. Significant differences in the rate of deaths and nonfatal hospitalizations by race/ethnicity were more common due to injuries and violence than chronic diseases.


This study highlighted key findings of demographic differences in consequences suffered by excessive alcohol use in California. Continued efforts to better evaluate the contribution of alcohol to morbidity and mortality by demographic factors, especially by race and ethnicity, is warranted to prevent and reduce the harm associated with this behavior.