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Study Finds High Number Of Deaths Linked To Excessive Drinking

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A new study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) finds excessive drinking accounts for nearly 1 in 10 deaths.

The CDC says "over-indulging" in alcohol leads to about 88,000 deaths every year in people between the ages of 20 and 64.

"We did not expect the magnitude of the number of deaths among working-age adults," said Dafna Kanny, PhD, who co-authored the CDC study.

Researchers found heavy drinking shortened lives by about 30 years because of long-term effects.

"Drinking too much alcohol over time can cause diseases like breast cancer, liver disease and cardiovascular or heart disease," Kanny said.

Scientists also counted alcohol-related violence, injuries and traffic accidents in their report. Experts consider "excessive" drinking eight or more beverages a week for women and 15 or more a week for men.

The CDC describes excessive drinking as a "pattern of drinking," while alcohol dependence is a chronic disease. The CDC emphasizes that the vast majority of people who do drink excessively are not alcoholics.

"The majority of patients say, 'Oh, I drink socially,'" Dr. Yvonne Rodriguez of Kaiser Permanente said. "It's much more important to ask, 'How many drinks is considered social for you? And how often are you drinking?'"

Rodriguez works in addiction medicine and said the findings don't surprise her. She encourages patients to be honest with their doctors, so that those who need treatment get it.

The CDC study found New Mexico had the highest percentage of alcohol-attributed deaths, while Maryland had the lowest. Pennsylvania was on the lower end, as well.

It also found men drink more excessively than women at a rate of 2 to 1.

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