Binge drinking has been shown to increase risks of hypertension, according to a study, but only in young men. Young women don't experience the same, as well as teenagers from both sexes.

The study, led by Dr. Sarah Twichell from Boston Children's Hospital, yielded results that support research on older men that show that the more alcohol they consume, the higher the risk they have of developing hypertension. Binge drinking in men is defined as having more than five drinks in a sitting, while in women it is set at more than four drinks in one sitting.

It has long been known that heavy alcohol consumption is connected to high blood pressure. While this study offers a clue on how early hypertension can start, it is not able to prove that alcohol is the direct reason for higher blood pressure.

Researchers analyzed data from the 1996 Growing Up Today Study, which involved children aged 8 to 14 years old at the time. Participants were provided detailed surveys every year or two and answers were gathered. Twichell and colleagues examined data on 8,605 participants who managed to complete the survey in 2010.

Analysis of survey results showed that regular binge drinking over the last year has been associated with an increase in the likelihood of developing high blood pressure by 1.7 times. Even if adolescent males have been binge drinking, their previous alcohol-consumption habits had no effect when they became adults. Young women who binge drink also didn't develop higher risks for hypertension, even lowering their risks if they stuck with moderate or light alcohol consumption.

According to cardiologist Dr. Guy Mayeda from Los Angeles' Good Samaritan Hospital, the reason why alcohol consumption has different effects on blood pressure may have something to do with the way alcohol affects a person's blood vessels.

As it is a vasodilator, alcohol initially dilates blood vessels. However, when a drink has run its course, the blood vessels shrink back. Binge drinking may also lead to elevated levels of adrenaline and other hormones and chemicals in the blood, like cortisol, which have been known to raise blood pressure.

Maybe it also has to do with physical differences. Young women and teenagers typically lower blood pressure levels than young men so even if their blood pressure rose with binge drinking, it still won't reach threshold levels that will be a cause for concern.

High blood pressure also increases risks for other conditions like kidney disease, stroke, and heart disease so young men are putting their health in danger in more ways than one when they binge drink.

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