Social drinker Christian Dempsey says he consumes about five glasses of alcohol each week.
"I don't think it's a major concern right now, as long as you do everything in moderation," Dempsey said.
So he never mentioned his drinking to his doctor. New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show most doctors never discuss alcohol use with their patients. Government health officials say at least 38 million Americans are consuming too much alcohol. And while most are not alcoholics, excessive drinking can cause health and social problems.
"There are several different patterns of problem drinking. One is binge drinking. A second is heavy drinking throughout the week, averaging more than two per day for men or more than one per day for women," said Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC.
The report considers a standard drink 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or a shot of 80-proof liquor. The CDC says excessive drinking causes about 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Researchers have found alcohol screening and counseling can reduce a binge drinker's consumption by as much as 25 percent.
"Screening for excess alcohol use needs to become routine, just as we screen for high cholesterol and high blood pressure," Frieden said.
The CDC recommends all adults have that honest chat with their doctors.
Excessive drinking can cause liver disease, infections and increase the risk of cancer.
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