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Connecting Moderate Drinking to the Risk of Injuries

a hand holding a wine glass while a bottle pours red wine into it

In the first-ever study to use blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to measure hours of alcohol exposure when analyzing the risk of injuries, PHI’s Alcohol Research Group (ARG) found that drinking to excess just one time can increase the risk of injury, showing that even infrequent drinkers can be at risk. 

Studies of emergency department visits show that a strong association exists between alcohol consumption and injuries, but the ARG study found that the risk is not only to heavy drinkers. Most studies define exposure as having consumed five or more drinks, but using BAC is more precise and accurate, and can inform policies such as establishing BAC limits for drinking-and-driving laws.

The ARG study found that the risk of injury appears to increase at relatively low levels of alcohol consumption. The injury risk peaked at one hour of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or higher and at one day with five or more drinks.

The findings highlight the importance of preventive efforts to reduce injury not only for heavier drinkers but also for more moderate drinkers.

The study analyzed data from over 29,500 respondents between 2000 and 2015 using four cycles of the U.S. National Alcohol Survey.

See the abstract of the study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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