Americans binge drinking more
January 10th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Americans binge drinking more

Binge drinking is a bigger problem in the United States than previously thought.  Adults binge drink more frequently and consume more drinks when they do, according to the CDC.

Ursula Bauer, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, announced the findings during a telebriefing Tuesday.  “Excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, accounts for 80,000 deaths in the U.S. each year,” she said, “making it the third leading preventable cause of death.” Those deaths are typically the result of motor vehicle crashes or violence against others while under the influence.

“Binge drinking,” said Bauer, “is defined as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion for women and five or more drinks on an occasion for men.” The new numbers from the CDC's January Vital Signs report reveal that 1 in 6 adults in the United States binge drink, usually 4 times per month, and consume an average of 8 drinks per occasion.

While binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes in excess of $75,000, the largest number of drinks consumed per occasion was greatest for those with household incomes of less than $25,000. Also somewhat surprising: while binge drinking is most common among 18-34 year-olds – when those 65+ binge drink – they do so more frequently.

Dr. Robert Brewer, Alcohol Program Lead for the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health promotion, noted that many binge drinkers are college students, high school students, active military and medical students.

According to the report, more than half of the alcohol adults drink is consumed while binge drinking and more than 90% of the alcohol young people drink is while binge drinking.

Binge drinking, among other things, can lead to unplanned pregnancy, the spread of STDs, SIDS, and – of course – alcohol dependence. Excessive alcohol consumption in men increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. Women are more vulnerable to brain, heart, and liver damage.

“Binge drinking causes a wide range of health, social, and economic problems,” says CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “We need to work together to implement proven measures to reduce binge drinking at national, state, and community levels.”

No more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men is considering drinking in moderation.


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