Binge Drinking Could Shorten Lifespan

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margaritaA new study shows that older adults who binge drink one or more times a month could be putting themselves at risk for an earlier death. Findings were recently published in the science journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Both men and women from their mid-50s to their mid-60s were included in the study. The results showed that even those participants who drank a moderate number of drinks through the week increased their risk of dying during the following 20-year period when they engaged in binge drinking, in comparison to those who were regular moderate drinkers. Binge drinking, the article explains, means drinking four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men during a time period of about two hours.

Most older drinkers fall into the “moderate” category, resulting in this being the first study of its kind to focus on the older population. Holahan and colleagues tracked the drinking behavior of 443 participants that fell into the age range chosen for the study, all of which were considered moderate drinkers, or those who averaged at least ½ drink a day for the previous month.

The results of the study indicated that those individuals who had modest alcohol intakes and binge drank doubled their risk of dying during the following 20 year period in comparison with both men and women who drank moderately. At the end of the 20 year period, 61 percent of those who were binge drinkers had died in comparison with 37 percent of the moderate drinkers.

Holahan explained that binge drinking is a bad idea at any age. Drinking heavily concentrates alcohol’s toxicity and damages body organs while also increasing the risk of accidents. Until now, the frequency of middle agers and older adults who binge drink has been overlooked. While the impact on adolescents and young adults is known, binge drinking is even harder on older bodies and minds.

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