Drinking 22 or more units of alcohol a week increases rates of hospital admission

Jul 01, 2009
Drinking 22 or more units of alcohol a week increases rates of hospital admission

(PhysOrg.com) -- Men who drink 22 or more units of alcohol a week have a 20% higher rate of admissions into acute care hospitals than non-drinkers, researchers from the University of Glasgow have found.

The study also showed that drinking between eight and 14 units of a week increases the total number of days spent in hospital.

The research saw almost 6,000 working men, aged 35 to 64 during the early 1970s, from West and Central Scotland undergo a comprehensive screen to check for underlying and potential health problems and questions about their weekly .

This was categorised as none; 1 to 7 units; 8 to 14; 15 to 21; 22 to 34; and 35 or more. Twenty one units is the government’s recommended maximum weekly amount of alcohol for men.

The participants’ health was then tracked for around 28 years, using national hospital activity data, focusing on heart and , stroke and alcohol related illness/conditions.

The results showed that men drinking over 22 units a week had a 20% higher rate of admissions into acute care hospitals than non-drinkers. But relatively low levels of alcohol consumption also gave rise to a higher number of bed days.

Drinkers of eight or more weekly units spent longer in hospital than non-drinkers, with length of stay progressively increasing the higher the weekly consumption. Those drinking the most chalked up a 58% higher use of beds.

The number of admissions for , and more time spent in hospital as a result, started with a weekly tally of 15 units, and progressively increased the more weekly units were consumed.

Those downing 22 or more weekly units had more admissions for respiratory illness, but they had the lowest rates of admission for . Non-drinkers had the highest rates of admission for this.

Men drinking 22 or more units a week had more admissions for a mental health problem, but non-drinkers had a higher rate of admissions for mental ill health than those who drank between one and 14 units a week.

Dr Carole Hart, Research Fellow in Public Health and Health Policy at the University of Glasgow, said: “This research illustrates the long-term impact that alcohol can have on health and health services and reinforces the case for moderation when it comes to alcohol consumption.”

The authors conclude that drink has a “notable effect” on health service use and therefore overall costs to the NHS. Their report is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Provided by University of Glasgow

Explore further: Community service programs that include reflection found to be more beneficial to youth

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Warning for women who binge drink

Nov 09, 2007

As levels of binge drinking in the UK rise, doctors in this week’s BMJ report three cases of bladder rupture in women who attended hospital with lower abdominal pain.

Moderate drinking may help older women live longer

Dec 13, 2006

A study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society finds that moderate alcohol intake (1-2 drinks/day for 3-6 days/week, depending on alcoholic content) may lead to increased quality of life and survival in older ...

Drinking can trigger high death rate

Apr 10, 2006

A UCLA study has determined older men who have as few as two drinks weekly and who have diseases that are worsened by alcohol have a high death rate.

A Drink to Healthy Aging

Dec 13, 2007

Researchers at the University of Newcastle say a glass of wine a day may be of benefit to the health of older women.

Recommended for you

Background TV can be bad for kids

2 minutes ago

Parents, turn off the television when your children are with you. And when you do let them watch, make sure the programs stimulate their interest in learning.

Many kids with medicaid use ER as doctor's office: CDC

30 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—Children covered by Medicaid, the publicly funded insurance program for the poor, visit the emergency room for medical care far more often than uninsured or privately insured youngsters, a U.S. ...

Warning: Birthdays can be bad for your health

1 hour ago

New research has found that birthday-related drinking is associated with upsurges in hospital admissions among young people. This study of drinking behaviour in Ontario, Canada is published online today in the scientific ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dan42day
not rated yet Jul 02, 2009
Respiratory diseases... did they adjust for the fact that many heavy drinkers also smoke? Or that smokers tend to smoke way more when they are drinking? Or that even nonsmokers who drink in bars until recently in many places were exposed to high concentrations of second hand smoke?
smiffy
not rated yet Jul 02, 2009
Those downing 22 or more weekly units had more admissions for respiratory illness, but they had the lowest rates of admission for coronary heart disease. Non-drinkers had the highest rates of admission for this.
If the bad health was down to inhalation of tobacco smoke then you might expect that coronary heart disease would also be high - but the complete opposite was true.

Seems that the stress-busting effects of alcohol are underrated...Drink moderately for relaxation seems to be the health message .