One out of six American adults binge drinks four times per month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and most of these binge drinkers are 26 years of age or older. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has defined binge drinking as four or more drinks at a time for women and five or more drinks at a time for men.
While binge drinking may seem harmless, these statistics regarding the matter are actually quite alarming, as binge drinking can result in a number of negative consequences. Here, learn about the dangers of binge drinking, as well as ways to keep yourself safe.
Binge Drinking and Cancer Risk
Cancer is a danger associated with binge drinking. In fact, men with a history of binge drinking are 3.5 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, according to a 2010 study in Cancer Causes and Control.
A second study, published in 2007 in the European Journal of Public Health, found that there was a relationship between breast cancer and binge drinking. Results of the study showed that consuming four to five drinks during the last weekday increased the risk of breast cancer by 55 percent compared to consuming just one drink. Furthermore, study participants who consumed 10-15 drinks during the weekend were 1.49 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who consumed just one to three drinks during the weekend.
Cardiovascular Risks among Binge Drinkers
Binge drinking can also lead to cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as elevated blood pressure. According to a 2013 edition of the medical journal PLOS ONE, men who binge drink are 1.62 times more likely to develop high blood pressure, whereas female binge drinkers are 1.31 times more likely to have high blood pressure.
In men, binge drinking increases the risk of heart disease. A 2010 study in the British Medical Journal found that men who were binge drinkers were 1.97 times more likely to experience heart disease than were men who drank at least once per week but were not binge drinkers.
Driving Risks Associated with Binge Drinking
Binge drinking may place you in an unsafe driving situation. The results of a 2010 study conducted by the CDC found that 85 percent of people who reported driving under the influence of alcohol also reported binge drinking. Check your blood alcohol with our BAC calculator
A 2008 study published in the journal Addiction found additional driving risks associated with binge drinking. Study participants who were moderate or heavy binge drinkers were less likely to wear seat belts, and heavy binge drinkers were significantly more likely to experience traffic accidents than were non-drinkers.
Binge Drinking Correlated with Risky Sexual Behavior
A 2009 study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that binge drinking was associated with risky sexual behavior among heterosexual African American men. Men who reported binge drinking were more likely to engage in unprotected sex, and they were at a higher risk of having HIV or a sexually transmitted infection.
In 2003, a study published in the journal Pediatrics found that white women who were binge drinkers were more likely to experience unintended pregnancies. According to the results of a 2008 study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, female binge drinkers were significantly more likely than non-drinkers were to have multiple sexual partners and to have Gonorrhea.
Protecting Yourself from the Risks of Binge Drinking
Despite the risks associated with binge drinking, you can enjoy an alcoholic beverage without harming yourself. If you are planning to go out to a social gathering and know you will be drinking alcohol, find a designated driver in advance so you are not tempted to drive home while under the influence.
Also, follow the recommendations set forth by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This expert organization recommends that men consume no more than two drinks per day or 14 drinks per week and that women consume no more than one drink per day or seven drinks per week. Remember, women who drink four or more drinks at a time are binge drinking, whereas men who consume five or more drinks are binging.