Study: Binge drinking increasing among older adults

By  | 

NEW YORK (CBS) New research shows the number of people over 65 who binge drink is increasing, and why too much alcohol can be especially harmful for older adults.

When we think of binge drinking, we think of college students. But now new research from NYU School of Medicine shows 1 in 10 older adults currently binge drinks. For men, that's five or more drinks on a given occasion, for women it's four or more.

"It looks like there has been an increase in binge drinking among older adults," said NYU's Dr. Benjamin Han, the author of the report.

He says the findings are concerning because as we age, changes in the body make older people much more sensitive to alcohol. "In addition, adults tend to have more chronic diseases and take more prescribed medications and alcohol can negatively impact existing chronic disease, can also interact with a range of prescribed medications that can be potentially dangerous," Han said.

As we age, guidelines suggest it's best to drink less. Older adults who are healthy and do not take medications should not have more than seven drinks in a week. "It also depends on if you have certain conditions, it's probably much safer not to drink at all," Han said.

New York Photographer Stephen Sherman says as he gets older, he has cut down on drinking. "I drink very little. One or two drinks a week, if that. I've recently had some heart issues," he said.

Researchers say older adults should talk with their doctor about what level of drinking is safe for them.

The study also found older adults who use cannabis are more likely to binge drink, which can be a dangerous combination.