Young drinkers, beware! Alcohol may be posing greater long-term health risks than just a hangover.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six adults in the U.S. binge-drinks at least once every week. Binge-drinking typically means men consume five drinks or more or women consume four drinks or more within two hours.
Now, researchers at Vanderbilt University are looking at the long-term health consequences.
Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls and alcohol poisoning are just some of the things that can happen immediately after someone binge-drinks. But what are the long-term effects?
“There are some obvious ways, and then there are some ways that aren’t so obvious, and I think the blood pressure story is one of those not so obvious ways,” Dr. Daniel Munoz said.
Researchers looked at data from more than 4,500 adults ages 18-45 and found those who binge-drink frequently were more likely to have higher blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar than non-binge-drinkers. These are all factors that increase someone’s cardiovascular disease risk.
“Even small differences over time can impact somebody’s vulnerability to developing heart disease,” Munoz said.
Research suggests development of high blood pressure before age 45 was significantly associated with higher risk of cardiovascular death later in life. Many experts say it’s OK to have a drink now and then, but remember, moderation is the key.
The study also looked at the effects by gender. Men who binge-drink have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure and women had higher blood glucose levels than non-binge-drinkers.
BINGE DRINKING AND HEART RISK
BACKGROUND: Binge drinking is a serious but preventable public health problem. It is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18-34 years, but more than half of the total binge drinks are consumed by those aged 35 and older. Binge drinking is more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more and higher educational levels. Binge drinkers with lower incomes and educational levels, however, consume more binge drinks per year. Over 90 percent of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
LONG-TERM RISKS: People binge drink for a number of reasons. It’s a coping mechanism or a means of alleviating emotional problems or stress. Depending on how much is taken and the physical condition of the individual, binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts are associated with many health problems. Some of these include: unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning; intentional injuries such as firearm injuries; sexual assault or domestic violence; increased on-the-job injuries and loss of productivity; increased family problems and broken relationships. It can also lead to alcohol poisoning; high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases; liver disease; nerve damage; sexual problems; permanent damage to the brain; vitamin B1 deficiency (which can lead to a disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation); ulcers; gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls); malnutrition; and even cancer of the mouth and throat.
(Source: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/alcohol-abuse/binge-drinking-statistics-effects/#gref and https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol/short-term-long-term-effects.html)
NEW DRUG REVERSES EFFECTS ON BRAIN: Tests of a new anxiety medication on mice show it can reverse the harmful effects of heavy drinking on the brain and may even help alcoholics beat the disease, Queensland University of Technology researchers say. Neuroscientist Professor, Selena Bartlett, said two weeks of daily treatment with the drug, tandospirone, reversed the effects of 15 weeks of binge-like alcohol consumption on mice. Tandospirone is already being used in China and Japan to treat anxiety and depression in people and has been found to have limited side effects. "I think the key here, which is the cool part, we've found a way to reverse that or change it, with something that we can actually give to people and I think that's a pretty significant breakthrough," Professor Bartlett said. "Other studies in mice have shown that tandospirone improves brain neurogenesis, but this is the first time it has been shown that it can totally reverse the neurogenic deficits induced by alcohol," she continued. Professor Bartlett said the discovery, by study co-authors QUT postdoctoral research fellows, Dr. Arnauld Belmer and Dr. Omkar Patkar, came about when they were looking at new treatment strategies for alcohol abuse and addiction. She said it might even help reverse the effects of alcoholism.