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One in 10 seniors binge drinks, study says

An illustration of a glass of wine.

Aug. 22, 2019—The typical image of a binge drinker is often a hard-partying young adult. But a new study suggests that about 1 in every 10 adults 65 and older are binge drinking, putting their health at risk.

What is binge drinking?

The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, describes binge drinking as five or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion for men and four or more drinks for women.

Researchers looked at data from nearly 11,000 adults age 65 and older and estimated that 10.6% were binge drinkers.

They found that the binge drinkers were more likely to:

  • Be men.
  • Use cannabis, tobacco or both.
  • Be African American.
  • Have less than a high school education.
  • Have visited a hospital emergency department in the past year.

Why does it matter?

Binge drinking is a risky behavior, especially for men and women with age-related challenges, such as an increased risk of falling.

Drinking too much alcohol can also interfere with medications, making a chronic disease more difficult to manage. Many of the binge drinkers in the study had a chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Binge drinking combined with cannabis use is especially risky, according to the researchers. Using these substances together can increase impairment.

Unfortunately, many older adults may not be aware of the possible dangers of combining cannabis with alcohol, the researchers said.

Do you binge drink?

Binge drinking is dangerous, and you shouldn't hide the habit from your doctor. A healthcare provider can help you find resources and strategies for living a healthier life.

What's the harm in a drink? Find out using this infographic.

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