Higher Alcohol Intake Associated with More Hospitalizations

A study of 6,000 men ages 35 to 64 found that the more alcohol the men drank, the more time they spent in the hospital, Forbes reported July 1.

The Scottish study, which began in the early 1970s, divided the men into six groups: no alcohol use; 1 to 7 units consumed per week; 8 to 14 units a week; 15 to 21 units a week; 22 to 34 units a week; and 35 or more units a week or more. The researchers defined a unit of alcohol as a half-pint of beer or a 4-ounce glass of wine.

The researchers found that men who drank more than 22 units of alcohol a week had a 20-percent higher hospital-admission rate than non-drinkers, while the heaviest drinkers stayed 58 percent longer in the hospital than non-drinkers. Even relatively low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with longer hospitals stays, with the length of stay increasing as consumption did, the researchers found.

The study also found that the men who drank 15 units of alcohol a week had increased numbers of hospital admissions for stroke, and that these admissions also increased the more the men drank. 

The researchers found that the men who drank 22 or more units a week had more hospital admissions for respiratory illness, but they also had the lowest admission rates for coronary heart disease, while the non-drinkers had the highest rates of admission for coronary heart disease.

Men who drank 22 or more units per week had more admissions for mental-health problems, researchers found, but non-drinkers had higher rates of admissions for mental-health problems than those who drank 1 to 14 units of alcohol a week.

The study was published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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