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Key words. Find the information Look in the text and find this information as quickly as possible. 1. What percentage of murders in Russia are linked to alcohol? 2. What percentage of suicides in Russia are linked to alcohol? 3. How much pure alcohol does the average Russian drink each year? 4. How much alcohol do some household products contain? 5. What is the life expectancy for men in Russia? 6. What is the life expectancy for women in Russia?

Cologne and antiseptic: Russia’s killer drinks Sarah Boseley, health editor, and Luke Harding in Moscow June 15, 2007 A new medical study about alcoholism reports that almost half the men of working age who die in Russia die as a result of alcohol. The report says that large numbers of Russian men die young not just because they drink a lot of vodka but because they also drink household products containing alcohol, such as perfume, aftershave and medicines. Some products contain 95% alcohol. An international group of scientists looked at one city in the Ural mountains. They wanted to discover the effects of drinking in Russia.

They chose the city of Izhevsk because it is a typical industrial city where life is the same as in other large cities in Russia and where the death rate is the same as the Russian average. The scientists wanted to find out why life expectancy in Russia is so low: in 2004 it was 59 years for men and 72 for women. As a result of the low life expectancy and a low birth rate, the population of Russia is falling by 700,000 a year. Alcohol has always been an important factor in death and disease in Russia. Changes in the death rate which are linked to changes in lifestyle and politics support this fact.

Life expectancy increased during the mid-1980s when President Gorbachev tried to stop people in Russia drinking so much alcohol. After the end of communism the death rate in Russia increased in the early 1990s. This was probably because of alcohol. One study found that Russians, and people in other countries of the former Soviet Union, drank more than anybody else in the world – about 15.2 litres of pure alcohol per person each year for people over 15 years of age. They also drank more dangerously and often drank for two days or more without stopping.

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The scientists examined the medical records and interviewed the families of 1,750 men who had died in Izhevsk from 2003-05. They compared these men with 1,750 who were still alive. They found that problem drinkers and people who drank alcohol from products like perfume and aftershave often died younger than those who did not have a drinking problem. The scientists say that men who lost their jobs because of drinking had very little money and often drank household products containing pure alcohol. In the group of men who were still alive, 47% who drank household products containing alcohol were out of work compared with 13% who drank only vodka and beer. In total, 43% of deaths of men aged 25 to 54 in Izhevsk were because of alcohol.

This is probably because they drank household products with very high levels of alcohol. Another report says that people who get their alcohol from household products often live in poor housing and have bad diets, and this could also lead to an early death. The report also says that many people also drink illegally produced alcoholic drinks. The Russian government agrees that alcoholism is a huge problem and calls it a “national tragedy”.

With Vladimir Putin as president, the Russian economy has grown very quickly since 2000 but people are still drinking a lot of alcohol. Russian alcoholics – drinking perfume, aftershave and cheap local alcohol – face great dangers. In winter they fall through ice or freeze to death in the snow. According to 2005 figures, Russia has 2,348,567 registered alcoholics, and alcohol is linked to 72% of murders and 42% of suicides. The World Health Organisation says Russia is one of the most alcoholic countries in the world. © Guardian News & Media 2007

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