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Excess Drinking Linked to Metabolic Syndrome

Exceeding U.S. Dietary Guidelines associated with 60 percent higher risk, based on NHANES data

MONDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking alcohol in excess of standard recommendations is associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, according to research published online July 15 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Amy Z. Fan, M.D., Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,529 current drinkers aged 20 to 84 in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Overall, 52 percent of men and 67 percent of women reported that their usual consumption exceeded U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The investigators found that daily consumption exceeding the guideline recommendations -- more than two drinks per drinking day for men or more than one drink per drinking day for women -- was associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome (odds ratio, 1.60). Binge drinking at least once weekly was also associated with a higher risk (odds ratio, 1.51).

"Since most Americans drink alcohol, and since more than half of current drinkers in our study drank in excess of the dietary guidelines limits and reported binge drinking, prevention efforts for established cardiovascular risk factors, including those that comprise the metabolic syndrome, should focus on reducing alcohol consumption to safer levels among those who already drink alcohol. However, few physicians screen their patients about alcohol use despite evidence-based guidelines recommending such screening. Furthermore, few patients or physicians are knowledgeable about guidelines that define low-risk or 'moderate' drinking in the United States," the authors write.

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