Russian Men Drink Vodka, Die Younger

More than a third of hard-drinking Russian men died between the ages of 35 and 54, new study finds.

Premature death in Russia is common, especially among men. And they're known for their affinity for vodka. Now, evidence suggests the two are linked.

The latest study, published in the journal Lancet, was based on interviews with 151,000 Russians over age 35 in 1998 and 2001. They compared their drinking habits with how many had died by 2011, finding that death rates increased substantially with the amount of vodka consumed.

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Of men who said they consumed between 1/2 a liter and 1 1/2 liters of vodka weekly, 20 percent died between ages 35 and 54, and 54 percent died between the ages 55 and 74.

For men who drank the most (those who consumed more than 1 1/2 liters of vodka per week) and also smoked, 35 percent died between the ages of 35 and 54. And 64 percent died between the ages of 55 and 74. Almost all the drinkers in the study also smoked.

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The data "reinforces other evidence that vodka is a major cause of the high risk of premature death in Russian adults," the authors wrote.

The average life expectancy for Russian men is just 64 years, which is among the bottom 50 countries worldwide, according to the Los Angeles Times.