Feature

Health scare of the week: A binge-drinking epidemic

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in six people binge drinks about once a week.

Millions of Americans may have an alcohol problem without realizing it. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in six people binge drinks about once a week. For women, binging is defined as downing at least four drinks in a sitting, and for men, at least five. But the survey of 458,000 people found that bingers actually consume much more—an average of nine drinks in one night for men and six drinks for women.

The results are “alarming,” the CDC’s Robert Brewer tells WebMD​.com. Excessive drinking causes roughly 80,000 deaths per year—often through car wrecks, violence, and suicides. Young people between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most likely to binge drink, but people 65 and older who overindulge do so more frequently—as often as six times a month. And most binge drinkers don’t consider themselves alcoholics, since they get fall-down drunk “only’’ once or twice a week, instead of every day. “If it is acceptable that this many adults are binge drinking,” says study co-author Dafna Kanny, “we have a problem in this society.”

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