Alcohol use, binge drinking linked to 23,000 U.S. female deaths

Jan. 8, 2013 at 6:37 PM
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ATLANTA, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Nearly 14 million U.S. women binge drink about three times a month at an average of six drinks per binge, health officials say.

A Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said binge drinking -- defined as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion for women and girls -- as well as drinking too much, caused about 23,000 deaths among women and girls in the United States each year.

Binge drinking puts women at increased risk for many health problems such as breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease and unintended pregnancy.

Pregnant women who binge drink expose a developing baby to high levels of alcohol, which can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and sudden infant death syndrome.

In addition, the report found about 1-in-8 women and 1-in-5 high school girls report binge drinking. Binge drinking was most common among women ages 18-34 and high school girls, whites and Hispanics, and women with household incomes of $75,000 or more. Half of all high school girls who drink alcohol reported binge drinking.

"Binge drinking causes many health problems, and there are proven ways to prevent excessive drinking," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement. "Effective community measures can support women and girls in making wise choices about whether to drink or how much to drink if they do."

CDC scientists looked at the drinking behavior of approximately 278,000 U.S. women ages 18 and older for the past 30 days through data collected from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and for approximately 7,500 U.S. high school girls from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

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