According to the study that was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, having a drink every now and then is okay, and moderate drinking can offer some health benefits but heavy, “binge” drinking is a health hazard that can have serious consequences.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre discovered that young adults in their twenties who frequently binge drink have higher blood pressure on average, which might increase the risk of developing hypertension.
Binge drinking — consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in less than two hours — is very common among young adults. Past studies in the U.S. and Canada have discovered that about four in ten young adults aged 18 to 24 binge drink frequently.
For the first time, research has discovered that binge drinking might have an effect on blood pressure, which can increase the risk of developing hypertension and chronic diseases related to hypertension. According to Jennifer O’Loughlin, senior author of the study, the study discovered that “the blood pressure of young adults aged 20 to 24 who binge drink was 2 to 4 millimeters of mercury higher than non-binge drinkers”.
At age 20, data on alcohol consumption was gathered from 756 participants in the Nicotine Dependence in Teens study, which has followed 1294 young people from diverse social backgrounds in Montreal, Canada since 1999. At age 24, data was again gathered, and participants’ systolic blood pressure was also taken. Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (i.e., when the heart muscle contracts), and it should be below 140 millimeters of mercury.
According O’Loughlin, professor in the School of Public Health, University of Montreal, the study discovered that over one in four young adults who frequently binge drink show signs of pre-hypertension: which can progress to hypertension, and can lead to heart disease and premature death.
The study also discovered that 85 percent of young adults who drink heavily at age 20 maintain this behavior at age 24. The researchers now aim to look into whether this trend toward high blood pressure will continue when binge drinkers turn 30.
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.