The new study, led by Dr. Cheryl J. Cherpitel of the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute of California, found that the risk of injury for both men and women increased with one drink and continued to increase with each drink.
The risk for men and women after up to three drinks was comparable, but the risk for women grew more rapidly from then on. After 15 drinks, the risk of injury for women was twice that of men.
The researchers did not find significant differences in the risk of alcohol-related injuries for different age groups. Older adults are less likely than adults aged 18 to 30 to engage in excessive alcohol consumption, but when they do, they appear to face the same risk of injury.
For the purposes of this study, a single drink was considered to be one 350 ml glass of 5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) beer, one 150 ml glass of 12 percent ABV wine or one 44 ml glass of 80-proof spirit alcohol. A standard 750 ml bottle of 12 percent ABV wine is the equivalent of 5.6 drinks.
Violence-Related Injuries Most Common
The study also found that injuries from violence were by far the most common injuries for women to be associated with acute alcohol consumption and that the risk of violence-related injury increases even more rapidly with higher volumes of alcohol than the risk of other forms of injury. Other common forms of injury found in the study resulting from acute alcohol consumption included falls and traffic accidents.
During the course of the study, the researchers gathered data from 37 hospital emergency departments in 18 countries. The participating countries were Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama in the Americas; Belarus, Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland in Europe; China, India and Korea in Asia; and New Zealand.
They acquired information concerning a total of 13,119 people injured following binge drinking, all of whom arrived at an emergency department within six hours of their injuries.
Risk of Injury Influenced by “Detrimental Drinking Patterns”
The researchers also evaluated how a country’s detrimental drinking pattern (DDP) score influenced the risk of alcohol-related injury. DDP is a measurement developed by the World Health Organization based on the drinking culture of each country. The factors used to determine each country’s DDP score include the number of heavy drinking occasions (such as holidays where drinking is common), how often drinks accompany meals and how common it is to drink in public locations. The ratings range from a low of one to a high of four.
Previous studies have suggested that countries with higher DDP scores have more alcohol-related injuries. This study produced some similar results, finding that DDP-3 countries had higher risk of injuries at all volumes of consumption compared to DDP-2 countries. However, this study also found that the risk of injury in DDP-4 countries plateaued after five drinks, while the risk in DDP-3 countries continues to climb up to 15 to 20 drinks.