All-Cause Mortality

What is “All-cause mortality”? All-cause mortality represents the death rate in a population from any and all causes. Thousands of research studies have tried to examine the impact that a behavior or characteristic has on mortality – meaning, whether that factor is associated with higher or lower than average death rates.

The majority of research on this relationship indicates decreased risk of all-cause mortality among people who consume low or moderate amounts of alcohol, compared with those who do not drink alcohol.

While studies have shown that people who consume low or moderate amounts of alcohol have lower all-cause mortality than those who do not consume alcohol, research has also shown that people who consume harmful or excessive amounts of alcohol over the life course have a higher risk of all-cause mortality. Depicting this pattern (I.e., nondrinkers having a slightly higher risk of all-cause mortality than low or moderate drinkers, and excessive or harmful drinkers having the highest risk of all-cause mortality) in a graph, it produces what is referred to as a “J-Curve[LINK TO INFOGRAPHIC]
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Identifying the relationship between alcohol consumption, or any other factor, and all-cause mortality is challenging. This is, in part, due to the fact that it is impossible or unethical to conduct research that randomly assigns a person to engage or not engage in a behavior, for instance. Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)[LINK TO INFOGRAPHIC]
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Most importantly, though, it is challenging because, over the life course, people are affected by a number of individual, environmental, and societal factors – on top of which, hereditary or genetic factors play an important role. These factors impact a person’s risk of health outcomes, and oftentimes the effects of various co-occurring factors (e.g., if a person has a family history of cancer and they smoke cigarettes) amplify that risk.

Find research articles and learn more at PubMed: