A new federal study has found that about six people in the United States die each day from having very high levels of alcohol in the blood, a condition otherwise known as alcohol poisoning. The trend highlights the dangers posed by the excessive drinking of alcohol in a short period of time.
The study, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Jan. 6 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), revealed that between 2010 and 2012, the number of people who die from alcohol poisoning every year was at 2,221, or 8.8 deaths per population of 1 million.
Figures from the CDC show that over 38 million American adults binge drink four times a month on average, consuming about eight drinks per session and putting them at high risk of death.
Binge drinking can lead to too much alcohol in the body, and this can cause areas of the brain controlling the heart rate, body temperature and breathing to shut down, eventually causing death.
The study showed that 76 percent of alcohol poisoning deaths occurred in men and revealed the number of deaths per year that can be attributed to alcohol poisoning for each state. The west in particular had very high numbers of alcohol poisoning-related deaths, especially in Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado and Oregon.
Interestingly, the study, which looked at the deaths caused by alcohol poisoning among those who were 15 years old and older, showed that teenagers and college students are not the ones with increased likelihood of dying due to binge-drinking but middle aged individuals between 35 and 64 years old.
Only 5.1 percent of those who died from alcohol poisoning were between 15 and 24 years old, contradicting a popular notion that young people are more likely to die from binge drinking than their elders.
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is a lot of binge drinking going on by people who are post college-age," said study researcher Robert Brewer from CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, "We were surprised by these findings."
CDC principal deputy director Ileana Arias said that effective programs are needed to prevent binge drinking.
"Alcohol poisoning deaths are a heartbreaking reminder of the dangers of drinking too much alcohol, which is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S," she said. "We need to implement effective programs and policies to prevent binge drinking and the many health and social harms that are related to it, including deaths from alcohol poisoning."