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Monday, May 6, 2013

Research Results: Binge Drinking And Its Impact On Heart Health Of Young Adults

What is binge drinking?

We hear the expression binge drinking a lot. We see it in news articles and news reports, we hear people talking about it with their friends. We hear parents speak of it when they talk about their teen-age and college age children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as:

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours.

We have often posted about binge drinking to assist our readers to have a better understanding or binge drinking and also to bring to their attention new studies about the impact of binge drinking on our health, social lives, careers, and our families.

New study examines heart health and the effects binge drinking

Researchers at the University of Illinois were led by senior study author, Dr. Shane A. Phillips, an associate professor and associate head of physical therapy and co-author, Mariann Piano, PhD, RN who heads the department of biobehavioral health science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The result of their research "Binge Drinking Impairs Vascular Function in Young Adults" was published online in the May 2013 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Study's parameters

  • 38 healthy college non-smoking college students were surveyed
  • Researchers divided the students into two groups
  • One group consisted of those who had a history of binge drinking - this group numbered 17 students
  • The second group drank no more than five alcoholic beverage over the course of one year - this group numbered 19 students
  • Each student was asked to provide a medical history, including information about their diet, frequency of binge drinking and family history of alcohol abuse

Study's findings

According to a CBS News report the researchers found:

Binge drinkers on average imbibed about six times per month for a four-year period. Blood tests that looked at cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood cell and protein counts revealed that binge drinkers had impairments in the function of endothelial and smooth muscle cells. These are the two main types of cells that control blood flow in the body, the researchers said.

These changes to vascular cells were equivalent to the problems found in people with a lifetime history of drinking heavily every day, they added.

Such changes can precede the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Having high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also cause these changes the students exhibited, but the researchers pointed out the binge drinkers in the study had healthy levels for both.

You can learn more about binge drinking and its health risks in a video provided by the CDC

CDC Video Player.  Flash Player 9 is required.
CDC Video Player.
Flash Player 9 is required.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

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