Last Call

drinkingA little bit may be good for your health. But too many of us are having too much and that isn’t good at all.

A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that light-to-moderate alcohol use is associated with a reduced risk of death compared with no alcohol consumption at all.

From Reuters News Agency:

Compared with people who never had a drop of alcohol, light to moderate drinkers were more than 20 percent less likely to die early of any cause, or of heart disease in particular, the study found.

“If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation,” said lead study author Dr. Bo Xi of the School of Public Health at Shandong University in China.

However, as Time Magazine pointed out, researchers claim heavy drinkers and binge drinkers are “11% more likely to die of any cause and 27% more likely to die of cancer,” compared to non-drinkers.

Check out this separate but related study published in JAMA Psychiatry that found sobering evidence of skyrocketing alcoholism numbers in the U.S. From the Washington Post:

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry this month finds that the rate of alcohol use disorder, or what’s colloquially known as “alcoholism,” rose by a shocking 49 percent in the first decade of the 2000s. One in eight American adults, or 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, now meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder, according to the study.

The study’s authors characterize the findings as a serious and overlooked public health crisis, noting that alcoholism is a significant driver of mortality from a cornucopia of ailments: “fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver cirrhosis, several types of cancer and infections, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, and various injuries.”

According to National Public Radio (NPR), “High-risk drinking, in this study, referred to women drinking four or more drinks in a day, or men drinking five or more drinks in a day, on a weekly basis. High-risk drinking overall rose by 29.9 percent.”

drinkingtrendsAnd then there’s problem drinking. The study looked at both alcohol abuse, which is drinking to the point where it causes recurrent and significant problems in your life, or alcohol dependence, which is in part the inability to stop drinking.

Problems with alcohol increased by nearly 50 percent. Among women, alcohol abuse and dependence increased by 83.7 percent. Among black people, it increased by 92.8 percent. Among the poor (earning less than $20,000) it rose by 65.9 percent.

And among older adults, abuse and dependence more than doubled.

The researchers didn’t theorize as to why older adults are drinking more than they used to. But they noted that the increase in high-risk and problem drinking among older adults is “unprecedented.”

So we have one study lauding the potential health benefits of light-to-moderate drinking, but another pointing out the damaging health effects of heavy drinking and binge drinking. Share your thoughts on these recent studies and what we might be able to learn from them. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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