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Binge Drinking Harms Health

rsz_binge_drinkingAlcohol has been called the “Jekyll and Hyde” of preventive medicine.  If you drink a little, it can be good for you.  If you drink a lot, it can be bad for you.  In moderation it may reduce your risk of heart disease.  In excess, it may increase your risk of many diseases, including cancer.  Moderation is defined by most health organizations as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.  One drink is equal to: 12 ounces of beer , 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.  Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks per occasion for women and 5 or more drinks for men.  This type of drinking is especially harmful to health and cancels out the benefits gained by drinking in moderation. 

Binge Drinking & Health

Researchers from Toulouse University School of Medicine in France compared the drinking patterns of almost 10,000 middle-age men in France and Northern Ireland over the span of ten years.  The volume of alcohol consumed over a week in both countries was almost the same; however, in Ireland most of the drinking took place over one or two days (weekend drinking) rather than regularly throughout the week.  The prevalence of binge drinking was almost 20 times higher in Northern Ireland than in France.  The result?  The French suffer from considerably less heart disease.  They found that men who binge drink had nearly twice the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease.  Others studies show that binge drinking is detrimental to brain health, including a higher risk of dementia.  The bottom line:if you drink, don’t binge!

The Question You Need to Ask

Researchers from Boston Medical Center have found that one simple question (developed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) helps to identify unhealthy alcohol use: How many times in the past year have you had 5 or more drinks in a day (4 or more drinks if asking a woman)? If your answer is greater than 1, it means your use of alcohol may be unhealthy. Remember, when it comes to alcohol, moderation is the name of the game!

Lesson Learned

If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation.  Binge drinking is especially harmful to health and should be avoided.

 

 

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