Binge drinking ranks high among older adults, research shows

The study found binge drinkers 65 and older were more likely to be men; it also noted they were more likely to use tobacco or cannabis. According to the estimates, there are now 10.6% of adults aged 65 years binge drinkers in the U.S. They looked at the prevalence of current (past-month) binge alcohol use, defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as five drinks or more on the same occasion for men and four drinks or more for women.

"Many organizations, such as the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIAAA], recommend lower drinking levels as people get older or have more chronic diseases", said lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Han, an assistant professor of geriatric medicine at NYU Langone Health in New York City. A pattern of heavy drinking may also raise a person's risk for chronic conditions such as cancer, dementia and liver disease.

"Sometimes we forget that alcohol can be a risky substance".

Han warned of the potential health risks in a statement. "Binge drinking, even episodically or infrequently, may negatively affect other health conditions by exacerbating disease, interacting with prescribed medications, and complicating disease management", he said. Among senior binge drinkers, the most common chronic diseases were high blood pressure (41 percent), heart disease (23 percent) and diabetes (18 percent).

Much has been made lately of millennials drinking less-and as America's younger generations shift toward sobriety, recent research suggests the opposite is happening among its older ones, Time reports. "Using both may lead to higher impairment effects", he commented in a statement.

The authors estimate that more than one in 10 (10.6 percent) older adults have binge drank in the past month-an increase compared to earlier studies.

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A stock image of a glass of beer. But the new study did find certain lifestyle and demographic factors that were associated with heavy drinking in older age.

The same group of researchers published a similar study in 2017, looking at binge drinking among older adults from 2005 to 2014. The use of cannabis mixed with binge drinking has more harmful outcomes compared with using either substance alone, the study highlights. "This may be because some people stop or decrease their drinking when they have an illness or alcohol-related disease", says Han. Between 2001 to 2013, there was a 106.7 percent increase in alcohol use disorder among older adults.

Han and the research team examined data from U.S. adults age 65 and older to determine the current prevalence and factors that may increase the risk of binge drinking.

And excessive alcohol use contributes to 88,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the short-term, binge drinking can raise a person's risk of accidental injuries like auto crashes, burns, and alcohol poisoning; and carrying out violence like homicides.

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