Science and Journalism in Society

Brandeis University JOUR 130B

Is Alcohol Really That Bad?

Alcohol has helped to shape American culture and will continue to do so. Often in America, people use alcohol as a social lubricant or a way to wind down at the end of the day. Many studies have found that moderate drinking can offer substantial health benefits across all ages. The American Heart Association published a study called “Wine and Your Heart” showing an inverse association between moderate drinking and risk of heart attacks, ischemic stroke, and death all from cardiovascular causes. However, the key word is moderate!

Recently, there has been a considerab­le increase in binge drinking, with as many as 32% of Americans reporting occasional bingeing. Binge drinking is defined as episodic excessive drinking. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, or when women consume four or more drinks in about two hours. Binge drinking has been related to serious pathological effects in different organ systems. In the cardiovascular system, binge drinking has been linked to higher levels of cerebral bleeds, death from coronary artery disease, and strokes. In the gastrointestinal system, pancreatic cancer was found to be more common in binger drinkers than compared to nondrinkers. Furthermore, binge drinking goes beyond organ damage. Binge drinking is correlated most highly with violent injuries. Suicide rates among binge drinkers is six times that of moderate alcohol consumers.

Binge drinking has been shown to have serious effects on the human body. Although alcohol has certain benefits to health when people drink and meet the definition of moderate, there are still no public health guidelines that encourage people to start drinking.

 

 

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/103/3/472.full

http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/201108/43490

http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arcr352/155-173.htm

1 Comment

  1. smart way to use a word found in the report to open up a conversation about a specific problem. nice!

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