Binge Drinking Not Just for College Kids

Dr. Andrew Sussman on The Early Show's Healthwatch.
Binge drinking apparently isn't confined to frat parties and beer pong tournaments.

A Duke University study finds binge drinking - consuming five or more alcoholic beverages and long associated with college students- is relatively common among people between ages 50 and 64, according to a USA Today report Monday.

Researchers found that 22 percent of men and 9 percent of women in that age group engaged in binge drinking in the last month. The study also found that 19 percent of men and 13 percent of women had two or more drinks a day, which is considered a heavy drinking habit by the American Geriatric Society guidelines for older people.

These high levels of drinking leave older adults at greater risk for health problems, according to Dan Blazer, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Duke who was the study's lead author.

"They don't metabolize alcohol as quickly, they may be on medications, or they may have some health problems that alcohol may contribute to," Blazer told USA Today. "On average, if a young person drinks five beers and an older person drinks five beers, the older person is almost certainly going to have more difficulty."

Fourteen percent of men and 3 percent of women over 65 also binge drink, according to the study.

The net result of all that drinking might be greater risk of medical problems like stroke, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, neurological damage and poor diabetes control, researchers say.

The study was done in association with the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and appears Monday in the .