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CDC: Binge Drinking is Bigger Problem Than Previously Thought

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More American adults are binge drinking and consuming more drinks when they do, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report released Tuesday found more than 38 million U.S. adults drink an average of four times a month and the most drinks they consume on average is eight. While binge drinking is typically an activity for college kids, the report found adults ages 65 and older who say they binge drink do it more often – five to six times a month.

Households with incomes of $25,000 or less had the largest number of drinks per occasion, the report said.

“Binge drinking causes a wide range of health, social and economic problems and this report confirms the problem is really widespread,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, in a statement.  “We need to work together to implement proven measures to reduce binge drinking at national, state and community levels.”

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on an occasion. It accounts for 80,000 deaths in the United States, making it the third leading cause of death in the country. Binge drinking puts people at a higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunction, unintended pregnancies, car crashes, heart disease, liver disease and certain cancers.

Outside of the health impact, binge drinking has serious financial ramifications. The CDC estimates binge drinking costs $746 per person or $1.90 per drink in the United States in 2006 due to increased health care costs, crime and loss of productivity. Binge drinking costs government – on the federal, state and local levels – about $.62 per drink, while federal and state income taxes on alcohol only totaled $.12 per drink.

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