21 December 2010

Binge drinking woes

If you're under the impression that binge drinking is only a problem for women you'd better think again!


For some reason many people seem to associate the idea of binge drinking exclusively with women, as though it wasn’t an issue for guys. Well it is!

For men, binge drinking is typically defined as consuming five to six standard alcoholic drinks on one occasion, normally at an average frequency of once a week or more. While many guys are known to start their binging habit at an early age – in high school or at university – it’s also quite prevalent in older age groups. A 2009 national survey in the USA revealed that nearly a quarter of 50 to 64 year old men had engaged in binge drinking during the previous month.

“So what?” I hear you say. Well, there are a number of reasons why binge drinking on a regular basis is not a very healthy idea. Here are just some of them:

  • Recent long-term South Korean studies have shown that frequent binge drinking can triple a man’s chances of dying from a stroke while the risk of a bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke, caused by bleeding in the brain, is up to 300% higher in male binge drinkers. And if you suffer from high blood pressure, things look even less rosy: male binge drinkers with hypertension are 4 to 12 times more likely to die from a stroke or heart attack than their tea-totalling brothers.
  • Research in the USA suggests that adolescents who are into binge drinking are more likely to engage in compulsive and risk-taking behaviour. Binge drinking is known to be associated with an increased prevalence of unsafe sexual practices and an elevated risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Teen binge drinkers also stand a greater chance of becoming alcoholics in adulthood and are more likely to develop drug habits and mental problems.
  • Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning, liver disease, neurological damage and depression and has been linked to greater risks of injuries, accidents and violent crimes.
  • Binge drinking can cause damage to the male reproductive system, since alcohol disrupts the production of male sex hormones, including testosterone.
  • According to a recent US study, binging increases the risk of contracting pancreatic cancer.
  • In middle-aged men, binge drinking is associated with increased atherosclerosis, a condition in which artery walls thicken as a result of a build up of fatty materials such as cholesterol.

Finally, binge drinking is more likely to give you a beer belly than more moderated alcohol use. So think twice before you acquire a regular binging habit.

(Andrew Luyt, Health24, December 2010)



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