August 06: Moderate drinking has its proven health benefits but excessive drinking of wine and alcohol is harmful and particularly dangerous for older people, basically baby boomers (60 and above) and according to a new Study published last Wednesday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society10% of older adults in the US indulge in binge drinking
The Study seems to validate what is commonly known. ‘Binge drinking, even episodically or infrequently, may negatively affect other health conditions by exacerbating disease, interacting with prescribed medications and complicating disease management,” says Dr. Benjamin Han, the lead author of the study. Alcohol is also a risk factor for injury, Dr. Han said, adding ‘the consequences and recovery from a fall are much more serious for an 81-year-old than a 21-year-old.’
Binge drinking is usually defined as consuming five or more drinks in a sitting for men, and four or more drinks for women. And a drink is generally a can or bottle of beer, a glass of wine (150 mL) a shot of liquor (45 mL), or a glass of cocktail with liquor in it. The Study concluded that over 38 % of adults between 18 to 25 years had recently drunk excessively, with the 26 to 34 age group following very closely. But 10% of the older groups still indulged in binge drinking.
The Study analysed data from the annual U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2015 and 2017. Date included 10,927 adults aged 65 or older who reported their drinking habits in the previous 30 days. It did not examine the causes of excessive drinking or whether this number represents an increase or a decrease from previous years.
The number is undoubtedly an underestimate, according to a doctor who focuses on this aspect. People tend to miscalculate how much they actually drink and heavy drinkers are less likely to be available or to be included in surveys for other reasons. Dr. Han said he hoped that the study would emphasize the importance for clinicians to screen older patients for alcohol use and to educate them about how their bodies become more sensitive to alcohol as they age.
In 2017, epidemiologists at the institute published a study using data from 2001-2 and 2012-13 that showed that problem drinking was rising among older Americans. No similar data or study could be found for India where alcoholism is on the rise. But one may safely assume that the number of binge drinkers does not increase in the wine drinking population, as of now.
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