July 3, 2009
Moderate Drinking Raises Risk Of Hospitalization
New British research suggests that men who consumer just four pints of beer per week may increase their lifetime risk of being hospitalized.
In the study of 5,772 Scottish men, researchers found that those who consumed just four pints of beer, eight shots of spirits or eight small glasses of wine per week were more likely to be admitted to a hospital, than those who drank less or nothing at all. The risks were even higher for men who consumed greater amounts of alcohol, the study found.
The men in the study, all between the ages of 35 to 64, were followed for up to 35 years.
The researchers from the universities of Glasgow and Bristol also found that drinkers were more likely to require longer hospitalizations than those who drank less or abstained.
The comprehensive effects of alcohol consumption are "substantial," the scientists concluded.
"Alcohol consumption has a notable effect on health service utilization and therefore NHS costs," they wrote in a report about the study.
"This study confirms that people exceeding the recommended limits for alcohol are adding to the burden on the NHS through longer hospital stays," said Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, in an interview with BBC News.
"It is vital that government and health professionals join forces to reinforce the risks of alcohol misuse across a wide range of medical complications," he said.
A spokeswoman for Britain's Department of Health said alcohol abuse was one of the nation's most challenging public health problems.
"We are working harder than ever to reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions, and to help those who regularly drink too much or are dependent on alcohol," she told BBC News.
"There are a number of public health campaigns to help people understand government guidelines around drinking alcohol. Ongoing and future campaigns will also help people to live more healthily."
"Government is consulting on a draft mandatory code for alcohol retailing, which should restrict irresponsible ways of promoting alcohol and ensure information on alcohol units and government guidelines is widely available."
A separate study earlier in the week by Britain's National Health Service suggested that alcohol might have been to blame for the death of twice as many Scots as previously believed.
"Drinking alcohol is part of Scottish culture, but it's clear that many people are drinking too much and damaging their health in the process," said Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, reacting to the study.
"The Scottish Government has made crystal clear our determination to get to grips with it," she told BBC News.
The current study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
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University of Glasgow
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