binge drinking

Binge drinking is highly prevalent among young and middle-aged adults within the United States. Researchers investigated if binge drinking is associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease.

Binge drinking is the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks for men, or four for women, in one sitting within the past month. It is highly prevalent among young and middle-aged adults within the United States, with the average young adult consuming six to seven alcoholic drinks in a single session.

Previous research has shown that binge drinking may be associated with pre-high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In a recent study published in the Journal of American Heart Association, researchers investigated the risk factors of binge drinking in young adults.

Researchers analyzed data collected from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 18 to 45-year-old men and women. They classified the participants into three groups: non-binge drinkers, moderate binge drinkers (0-12 times in the past year), or heavy binge drinkers (more than 12 times in the past year).

After participants were controlled for their diet, age, sex, smoking status, and BMI, a total of 4710 participants were analyzed. Heavy binge drinkers were prevalent in 25.1% of men and 11.8% of women, compared to moderate binge drinkers which were 29% of men and 25.1% of women.

Interestingly, Hispanic women and Blacks have lower rates of binge drinking than Caucasians. Low-income men showed increased rates of binge drinking, as did women with higher education.

High blood pressure is associated with cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks. Binge drinking for men was associated with higher systolic blood pressure than non-binge drinkers, however, no association was seen for women. In fact, moderate binge drinking for women was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure.

Only male binge drinkers showed higher rates of total cholesterol levels, which is associated with cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. However, women binge drinkers showed higher fasting glucose levels, which is associated with metabolic syndromes. Contrarily, males showed lower fasting glucose levels.

Overall, the researchers found binge drinking to have serious negative effects on individual health. This effect seems to be greater in male vs female binge drinkers for developing cardiovascular disease.

Written by Aaron Kwong, MSc

Reference: Piano, M. R., Burke, L., Kang, M. & Phillips, S. A. Effects of Repeated Binge Drinking on Blood Pressure Levels and Other Cardiovascular Health Metrics in Young Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011‐2014. J. Am. Heart Assoc.7, e008733 (2018).

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