Duke University study: Many over 50 are binge drinkers

A significant percentage of people older than 50 are binge drinking, and experts fear the trend could cause severe health problems in the near future for baby boomers who continue their heavy drinking habits, according to a new study by Duke University Medical Center researchers scheduled for online publication today

Twenty-two percent of men and 9 percent of women 50 to 64 reported drinking five or more drinks at one time during the last month, according to the survey, which will be published in online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study showed 19 percent of men and 13 percent of women in the same age group engaged in heavy or at-risk drinking -- two or more drinks per day.

In the 65-and-older age group, 14 percent of men and 3 percent of women engaged in binge drinking, researchers found. Titled the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the research is touted as one of the largest surveys of substance use among people older than 50.

Drinking is more likely to compound health problems among older people as the body's natural immunities are weakened, said Dr. Dan Blazer, the study's lead author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke Medical Center.

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