There’s nothing wrong with having a drink at the end of a long day. Nothing wrong with drinking a case of beer with friends, either. Or even getting drunk on occasion. But we all know that booze can be overdone. Now there’s a new study that underscores the point.
Researchers at the University of Michigan began to worry a few years ago that the epidemiology of liver diseases like cirrhosis was shifting. For decades, it had tended to be older patients who came in with diseases like cirrhosis, where the liver becomes so heavily scarred it stops working, but they were finding anecdotal evidence that the demographics were changing somewhat. So they pulled the cause of death data from the CDC and did an analysis of liver disease fatalities, who died from them, and what the likely cause was.
The team learned that — despite enormous strides being made in treating causes like hepatitis — liver disease fatalities were actually rising. And they were rising in people 25-34 most of all, as Gizmodo breaks down:
…compared to 1999, the researchers found, the annual rate of cirrhosis deaths jumped 63 percent by 2016, while liver cancer deaths doubled. The rise was even starker when compared to other causes of deaths… the largest relative rise in mortality was remarkably seen among the young. The annual death rate jumped an average 10 percent each year from 2009 to 2016 for people between the ages of 25 to 34.
The culprit? Alcohol.
So how much drinking are we talking about, here? The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking as binge-drinking on more than five days in a given 30-day period, and binge-drinking as drinking enough to get your blood alcohol over 0.08 within two hours. That’s usually five drinks for men, and four for women.
None of this is to shame people who enjoy a good beer or even like to get drunk, just like nobody should judge anybody who has the occasional donut or smokes the occasional bowl. It’s not the substance, it’s the dosage. So go out, just keep your consumption in mind. Especially if you’re the type who likes to binge drink a few times a month.