Do you drink too much? Here’s what a new study says

  • Marty Toohey
10:08 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, 2017 Atlanta health, diet and fitness news
Clanton Nancy

Texas A&M University researchers, concerned as always for your health, say that anything more than 15 drinks a week for men and eight drinks for women is excessive.

That doesn’t mean you should save up for the weekend – they say anything more than two drinks per sitting for men and one drink per sitting for women is excessive, according to a recent installment in the A&M Health Science Center’s “You Asked” series.

The average American drinks 311 ounces of pure alcohol a year, or nearly 10 drinks a week, according to World Health Organization estimates, though that number is highly skewed by heavy drinkers.

Check out this Slate blog about a study that analyzed alcohol consumption: A substantial number of Americans never drink; those in the 90th percentile are right at the outer edge of too many drinks, at 15.28 drinks a week; and the top 10 percent consume an average of 73.85 drinks a week.

(A standard drink contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

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Lest stories of today’s wicked ways get out of hand, two years ago the BBC had an interesting take on the Puritans, widely perceived as America’s original teetotalers.

They were not.

In 1790, Americans commonly drank at breakfast, lunch and dinner, consuming 5.8 gallons of pure alcohol per year – the equivalent of 742 drinks per year, or 24 drinks a week, according to the BBC. That figure peaked at 7.1 gallons a year in the 1830s, the BBC said, or just more than 29 drinks per week.

That was the average, remember. And it was probably detrimental to their health.

“Binge drinking, especially repeatedly, can also tax the liver,” assistant professor Natalie Johnson said, “and the short-term effects of intoxication have been associated with many health problems, including alcohol poisoning and injuries both unintentional, such as car crashes or falls – and intentional, such as violent crimes or sexual violence.”

It’s difficult to know when the liver is being damaged. It does not have pain receptors, so that phrase “my liver is crying out” is just a figure of speech. Jaundice – yellowing of the skin or eyes – is a ready sign. So is liver failure, obviously. Anyone wondering about liver problems should have a liver function test, according to A&M researchers.

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