A new study has found that binge drinking is associated with an increased risk for metabolic syndrome.
The metabolic syndrome consists of a series of risk factors and conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes that are strongly linked to heart disease.
"These findings are significant because the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows 58 percent of all current drinkers in the United States reported usual alcohol consumption that exceeded the Dietary Guidelines, and 52 percent of all current drinkers reported at least one episode of binge drinking in the past year," said Amy Fan, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Atlanta, Ga., and lead author of the study.
"Most people who consume alcohol in the United States drink in ways that may increase their risk of the metabolic syndrome and related conditions," Fan added.
For this study, Fan and colleagues evaluated data from 1,529 participants of the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
They restricted their analysis to current drinkers (participants who consumed at least 12 alcoholic drinks in 12 months) aged 20 to 84 years.
The survey included both an interview and a physical examination that included a blood test.
Measures of alcohol consumption included usual quantity consumed, drinking frequency, and frequency of binge drinking.
"Since more than half of current drinkers in our study drank in excess of the Dietary Guidelines limits and reported binge drinking, prevention efforts should focus on reducing alcohol consumption to safer levels," said Fan.
"Unfortunately, few physicians screen their patients about alcohol use or are knowledgeable about guidelines that define low-risk or moderate drinking," Fan added.
The study is published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM).