Focus on: Ethnicity and the social and health harms from drinking

Karen G. Chartier, Patrice A C Vaeth, Raul Caetano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Alcohol consumption is differentially associated with social and health harms across U.S. ethnic groups. Native Americans, Hispanics, and Blacks are disadvantaged by alcohol-attributed harms compared with Whites and Asians. Ethnicities with higher rates of risky drinking experience higher rates of drinking harms. Other factors that could contribute to the different effects of alcohol by ethnicity are social disadvantage, acculturation, drink preferences, and alcohol metabolism. This article examines the relationship of ethnicity and drinking to (1) unintentional injuries, (2) intentional injuries, (3) fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), (4) gastrointestinal diseases, (5) cardiovascular diseases, (6) cancers, (7) diabetes, and (8) infectious diseases. Reviewed evidence shows that Native Americans have a disproportionate risk for alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities, suicides and violence, FAS, and liver disease mortality. Hispanics are at increased risk for alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities, suicide, liver disease, and cirrhosis mortality; and Blacks have increased risk for alcohol-related relationship violence, FAS, heart disease, and some cancers. However, the scientific evidence is incomplete for each of these harms. More research is needed on the relationship of alcohol consumption to cancers, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS across ethnic groups. Studies also are needed to delineate the mechanisms that give rise to and sustain these disparities in order to inform prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalAlcohol Research: Current Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • African Americans
  • Alcohol and other drug-induced risk
  • Alcohol burden
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol-attributable fractions
  • Asian Americans
  • Blacks
  • Cancers
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Caucasians
  • Cultural patterns of drinking
  • Diabetes
  • Ethnic groups
  • Ethnicity
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Harmful drinking
  • Hispanics
  • Infectious diseases
  • Injury
  • Intentional injury
  • Native Americans
  • Racial groups
  • Risk factors
  • Unintentional injury
  • Whites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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