Young drinkers beware: binge drinking is bad for you. Real bad

If you’re going out drinking tonight, you might wanna tone it down just a bit — especially if they still ask for your ID at the pub.

By now, it’s no secret that alcohol probably isn’t the best thing for you. Although it’s still a matter of active research, the vast majority of the science we have points to the negative effects of alcohol, which are long-lasting and far-reaching — especially if you start out young.

Binge drinking prevalence rates are highest in young adults, and yet the effects that it has on health remains largely understudied.

A new study carried out by Mariann Piano, senior associate dean of research at Vanderbilt University, and colleagues, reports that young adults who frequently binge drink have greater cardiovascular risk factors such as higher blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

Writing in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers explain that binge drinking by young men was also associated with higher systolic blood pressure — the force on blood vessels when the heart beats. Furthermore, frequent binge drinking had additional effects on cholesterol, which is also a major factor in cardiovascular disease. Female binge drinkers also tended to have higher blood glucose levels than abstainers.

Piano says that the risks are not trivial and should be strongly considered and addressed.

“The risk extends beyond poor school performance and increased risk for accidental injury,” she said.

The study is particularly relevant for college students — where binge drinking is more prevalent than ever.

About one in five college students report three or more binge episodes over the course of two weeks, consuming six to seven drinks per drinking session. Also, more and more students drink solely to get drunk, often up to the point where they pass out. Compared to previous generations, the propensity of college students to get drunk puts them at a greater risk for alcohol-related harm.

High-frequency binge drinking was reported by 1 in 4 men, and approximately 1 in 9 women. However, when it comes to occasional binge drinking (12 times a year or less), the figures were much closer: 29.0% for men and 25.1% for women.

However, things are starting to change, at least in some parts of the world. A previous study found that in the UK, a country where “you’re born with a basically born with a beer in your hand,” drinking rates among the youth have started to decline dramatically. Around 29% of 16-24-year-olds in the UK don’t drink alcohol at all, a significant increase from 18% back in 2005.

Globally, 3 million deaths every year result from the harmful use of alcohol, representing 5.3 % of all deaths. There is a strong causal link between alcohol and 200 disease and injury conditions, including several types of cancer, diabetes, and heart problems.

The study has been published in the Journal of the American Health Association (JAHA).


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