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Dangers of Heavy Drinking

Studies Reveal More Problems Facing Alcoholics

Two more research studies have emphasized the serious health effects of long-term heavy drinking, from an increased risk for having accidents to developing liver cancer.

Heavy drinking has long be associated with other liver problems, such as cirrhosis, and now a new Italian study links heavy drinking to the development of liver cancer.

Dr. Francesco Donato, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Brescia in Italy, studied 464 Italian men and women diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer, and 824 patients with no liver damage.

Donato's researchers found that drinking more than 60 grams of alcohol a day, equivalent to four to five glasses of wine, was associated with an elevated risk of developing liver cancer for both men and women.

They also found that the risk of developing liver cancer was even greater for patients who had been diagnosed with either hepatitis C or hepatitis B. The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Increased Injury Risks

The second study conducted by the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, revealed that recovering alcoholics are much more prone to injury than recovering users of cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs.

The researchers found at the start of a detoxification program, alcoholics were about twice as likely to have suffered a serious injury in the previous six months as compared to illicit drug users.

The significant finding of the study was the surprising revelation that higher injury rates to alcoholics continued for the following two years of detoxification; alcoholics continued to be more accident prone than drug users even after they quit drinking.

Jeffrey H. Samet, the study's senior author, said, "Our hypothesis was simply that when it comes to substance abuse, the consequences vary for each substance and for the group of users. What the substance is may be an important factor in the outcomes of the user."

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