no alcohol signAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive consumption of alcohol accounted for 23,000 deaths each year between 2001 and 2005. These deaths equated to more than 630,000 lost years of life (potential). Binging on alcohol was associated with more than 50% of the alcohol-related deaths, but death is not the only possible side effect of binge drinking.

Young girls and women who binge drink are more likely to suffer violence, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and liver disease. Cognitive function is reduced during bouts of binge drinking, which increases the likelihood of making risky behavioral choices, including having unprotected sex.

Researchers suggest binge drinking may also affect reproductive health as unprotected sex increases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted disease and infection, unplanned pregnancy, low birth weight and miscarriage. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and a variety of behavioral problems with offspring. Young girls and women who choose to abuse alcohol are more likely to carry alcohol abuse into reproductive and adult years, increasing the risk of reproductive side effects.

Information was collected in all 50 states using phone interviews. More than 278,000 women responded to the survey. Women were asked about alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, during the previous 30 days. Women who refused to answer questions about binge drinking were excluded from the final results. Students from high schools were also questioned using the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Questionnaires were completed by high school students with more than 15,000 respondents.

Phone studies revealed prevalence of binge drinking centered on women ages 18 to 24. Non-Hispanic white women reported binge drinking more often than any other racial demographic. Women with no high school education reported the lowest prevalence of binge drinking, but compared to women with a higher educational background, they were more likely to drink in excess when they did binge drink. The highest prevalence of binge drinking was noted in households earning $75,000 per year or more. According to the high school study, rate of binge drinking increased from 9th grade to 12th grade with Hispanic students and non-Hispanic white students reporting the highest prevalence of binge drinking.

Source: Dafna Kanny, PhD, Yong Liu, MS, Robert D. Brewer, MD, Paul I. Eke, PhD; Shanna N. Cox, MSPH; Nancy E. Cheal, PhD; Yvonne Green, MSN. Vital Signs: Binge Drinking Among Women and High School Girls—United States, 2011. JAMA. 2013;309(16):1675-1677. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.355.