Lifestyle & Belief

Binge drinking a bigger problem in US than thought: CDC report


A study from the University of California, San Diego and Stanford University found that binge drinking can harm the brains of teenage girls more than it affects the brains of teenage boys.


Matt Cardy

Binge drinking rates in the U.S. is "a bigger problem than previously thought," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report released Tuesday. 

According to the report, more than 38 million U.S. adults — or one in six — binge drink, about four times a month.

Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time.

On average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight, the report said.

Fox News quoted Ursula Bauer, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as saying at the release of the findings that: “Excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, accounts for 80,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, making it the third leading preventable cause of death.”

Those deaths are typically the result of motor vehicle crashes or violence against others while under the influence, she reportedly said.

According to the report, adult binge drinking is most common in the Midwest, New England, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii.

"On average, however, the number of drinks consumed when binge drinking is highest in the Midwest and southern Mountain states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), and in some states — such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina — where binge drinking was less common.

While binge drinking was more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more, the largest number of drinks consumed on an occasion is significantly higher among binge drinkers with household incomes less than $25,000.


While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.

CNN quoted Dr. Robert Brewer, Alcohol Program Lead for the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health promotion, as noting that many binge drinkers were college students, high school students, active military and medical students. 

Some unintended consequences of binge drinking, the CNN report warned, included unplanned pregnancy, the spread of STDs, SIDS, and — of course — alcohol dependence.

Health risks of excessive alcohol consumption included: in men, increased risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon; and in women, brain, heart, and liver damage.

(More from Globalpost: Binge drinking "harms brains" of teen girls)

Drinking in moderation, CNN wrote, means no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.