Tag: heavy drinking

Women are Leading the Charge of Alcohol Abuse

The New Numbers on Alcohol Abuse

According to a new report from the American Journal of Public Health, binge drinking and heavy drinking are on the rise. In fact, according to some reports, heavy drinking rose by 17.2% between 2005 and 2012. One of the reason for this large increase? Women are drinking more often and in larger amounts.

The report, complied by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations at the University of Washington, was published in late April. To generate it, researchers studied data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This is a recurring phone survey conducted by the CDC.

Researchers examined almost four million Americans’ drinking patterns. It’s important to note they only looked at adults twenty-one and older, so these new statistics don’t reflect underage drinking trends.

This study, led by Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington and former CDC bigwig, is the first of its kind. No other survey, report, or study has examined adult drinking behavior on a national level.

The results? Well, find a full and detailed breakdown below, but the gist is that people are drinking more booze more often. The drinking patterns of women are especially concerning. Between 2002 and 2012, rates of binge drinking among women rose seven times more than similar rates among men.

Dr. Mokdad had the following to say about female alcohol consumption, “It seems like women are trying to catch up to the men in binge drinking…It’s really, really scary” (Kaiser Health News).

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New Binge Drinking Statistics

The latest binge and heavy drinking statistics are in. The numbers are surprisingly high. Find a full breakdown below, but first it’s important to define what constitutes binge drinking and heavy drinking.

According the CDC, heavy drinking is when men have more than two drinks per day and women have more than one drink per day. Binge drinking, on the other hand, is when men have five or more drinks in one sitting and women have more than four drinks in one sitting. The timeframe used to measure both binge and heavy drinking is within the last month.

Find the newest statistics below!

  • Between 2005 and 2012, the percentage of people who engaged in heavy drinking was between 2.4% and 22.4%. This averages to around 12.4% of all US drinkers.
  • The percentage of people who engaged in binge drinking was between 5.9% and 36%. That averages to around 21% of all US drinkers.
  • During this same period, binge drinking rates among women rose around 36%. Compare this to binge drinking rates among men, which rose only 23%.
  • In 2010 upwards of 88,000 deaths were attributed to alcohol.
  • Heavy drinking is estimated to cost the United States, and private companies, more than $220 billion dollars each year.
  • Taxes on alcohol haven’t risen along with the cost of living. In effect, this makes alcohol cheaper now than in the past. Researchers believe this may be one of the causes of increased binge and heavy drinking.
  • A study found that alcohol companies spent approximately $3.45 billion to promote their products in 2011 alone. Researchers suggest this as another possible cause of increased rates of alcohol abuse.

Why are Women Drinking so Much?

There isn’t a simple answer as to why women are drinking more often and in greater quantities than ever before. As noted above, researchers suggest the price of alcohol, mixed with the billions spent in advertising, may be a large influence. Unfortunately there’s not definitive proof about whether this is true.

I believe, and it’s been floated in discussions about this data, that changing societal roles have had a major impact on how women drink. This certainly makes sense to me. Think about it – fifty years ago, even twenty years ago, women simply didn’t have the freedom they have today. Broadly speaking, women were unable to go out and drink to excess.

Fast forward to today’s world. Society thinks nothing of a group of women going to the bar. In so many ways this is an amazing thing. In a world beseeched by racism, classism, ageism, and many other “-isms,” the freedom women have is remarkable. However, it can also result in unintended and negative consequences, like this recent rise in female alcohol abuse.

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Drinking Significantly Raises Risk of Stroke

Alcohol Intake Linked to High Stroke Risk

According to a paper recently published in the journal Stroke, those who have more than two drinks per day have a 34% higher chance of having a stroke. Heavy alcohol intake in middle-aged individuals, ages fifty-to-sixty, has also been linked to stoke at a younger age.

Pavla Kadlecova, a researcher from St. Anne’s University Hospital International Clinical Research Center, located in the Czech Republic, is the lead author of this new paper. She aggregated over forty years of data to arrive at these numbers.

alcohol health issues

So, what exactly is the link between alcohol and strokes? Who provided the sample data for this publication? What can be done to decrease the risk of stroke in those who drink? Let’s find out!

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The New Data on Alcohol & Strokes

Kadlecova studied the medical records of over 11,000 middle aged Swedish twins to gather her information – 11,644 Swedish twins to be exact. These twins began answering questionnaires in the late 1960’s. They continued to answer questions and give researchers access to their medical records, including cause of death information, up until 2010.

That’s a total of forty-three years of data to sift through! To say this study was comprehensive is a bit of an understatement. This information was used in an attempt to learn how genetic and lifestyle factors impacted an individual’s risk of stroke.

What researchers found was that throughout early and middle life, heavy drinking posed as much of a risk for stroke as diabetes or high blood pressure. By later life, age seventy-five to be exact, diabetes and high blood pressure overtook alcohol consumption.

Heavy drinking is defined, in this instance, as men having more than two drinks per day and women having more than one.

During early and midlife, heavy drinking caused individuals to be 34% more likely to suffer a stroke. It also increased the average age of stroke by five years, regardless of genetic or lifestyle factors.

Kadlecova noted, “Our study showed that drinking more than two drinks per day can shorten time to stroke by about five years” (News Max Health).

The question then becomes why? Why do two or more drinks per day put individuals at drastically higher risk for stroke? Well, the answer’s still a bit unclear.

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Why Does Heavy Drinking Cause Strokes?

Dr. Irene Katzan, the Director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic, believes is has to do with how alcohol affects the blood.

It’s well known that alcohol is a potent blood thinner, on par with Coumadin. Researchers believe that heavy alcohol intake may cause blood vessels in the brain to break, causing a stroke. In fact, Dr. Katzan went on record as saying, “The more you drink, the more risk you have of bleeding in the brain” (News Max Health).

However, other researchers believe that alcohol produces strokes in different ways. Heavy alcohol use contributes to high blood pressure. Remember, high blood pressure, along with diabetes, is a key risk factor for stroke.

Heavy alcohol use also increases the chance of atrial fibrillation, or fast and irregular heartbeat. This is another important risk factor for stroke.

Alcohol poisoning kills six people each day

Decreasing the Risk of Stroke

alcohol and stroke

All of the above information is well and good, but it doesn’t address the most important question. What can be done to decrease the risk of stroke in individuals who drink?

Well, the best way to decrease your risk of alcohol-induced stroke is simple enough – stop drinking! However, for “normies” who don’t want to cut out alcohol completely, what other options exist?

The first option is to moderate your drinking. If more than two drinks puts men at an increased risk for stroke, and more than one places women in the same position, don’t drink that much! It’s that simple.

It’s also important to avoid drinking while taking a blood thinner. If alcohol alone increases the risk of stroke, mixing alcohol and blood thinners is a recipe for disaster.

Another practical step is to learn your family’s medical history. Is there a history of stroke in your family? If not, is there a history of either high blood pressure or diabetes? Remember, both are large indicators of future health issues.

If you do all of the above, you’re well on your way to avoiding a stroke!

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