Mar 19, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Young men who binge drink are more at risk for hypertension

Oct 23, 2014 03:27 PM EDT

A number of literature has discussed the harm and benefits of alcohol consumption, whose effects vary depending on the amount consumed and other factors such as age, lifestyle, present health condition, and even gender. However, the general consensus is simple: large amounts of alcohol in any form are detrimental to your overall health. And binge drinking is all that much worse.

A new study conducted by Dr. Sarah Twitchell of the Boston Children's Hospital found that binge drinking amongst young adult men may not only cause major health issues in the short term, but also leads to chronic increased blood pressure.

The research team analyzed data from the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), a study of children who were 8 to 14 years old in 1996 and were followed with detailed surveys every 1 to 2 years. Some 8,605 participants completed the 2010 survey which led to the significant findings.

The study, entitled "Adolescent Alcohol Use and the Development of Hypertension in Early Adulthood", revealed that adult men who had engaged in binge drinking over the past year had 1.7 times increased likelihood of developing hypertension, which is different from what was observed in adult and teenage women where binge drinking had no association with hypertension. In fact, the study showed that young adult women who had light to moderate alcohol use enjoyed a significantly reduced likelihood of hypertension, with 45 to 62 percent less chances of having high blood pressure.

Additionally, excessive drinking in adolescent males was not found to be significantly associated with the risk of developing hypertension.

The researchers found young adult men were 70 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure if they binge drank frequently in the previous year, even after researchers adjusted the data to account for weight, age, race and smoking, according to Twichell.

Binge drinking is defined by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health as having more than five drinks in one sitting for males and more than four in one sitting for females.

study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that there were 10.8 million underage (between 12 to 20 years of age) Americans who consumed alcohol, with 7.2 million being binge drinkers.

According to HealthDay, binge drinking has been associated with neurocognitive impairments. It is also associated with other health problems, such as accidental injuries, alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, sexual dysfunction, and uncontrolled diabetes.

Dr. Guy Mayeda, cardiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, said that for a long time, researchers have been aware of a link between heavy alcohol consumption and high blood pressure, "but this study reveals how early it can start."

"The thought is that in your 20s, you're invincible and immune to all these middle-aged diseases like heart disease and hypertension, but this study shows that young adult males who binge drink have higher instances of blood pressure," Mayeda said.

"Usually when you first drink, your blood pressure drops, but when you're binge drinking, when you stop the binge, there's a withdrawal. For people going through alcohol withdrawal, their heart rate goes up high and their blood pressure goes up high," Mayeda added.

Dr. Sarah Samaan, cardiologist and co-chair of the echocardiography laboratory at Legacy Heart Center in Plano, Texas, added that the blood vessels shrink during withdrawal following a binge drinking. "Binge drinking may also increase adrenaline levels and raise levels of other hormones and blood chemicals like cortisol, which are associated with high blood pressure," she said. "Since hypertension raises the risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, young men who binge drink put themselves in harm's way in more ways than one."

Samaan also gave other possibilities related to physical differences among the participants. "Young women and teen boys typically have lower blood pressure readings, so it's likely that even binge drinking will not cause the blood pressure to rise about the 'normal' threshold," she said. "For women, it's possible that estrogen has some protective effect on blood pressure, although there is no way to determine that from this study."

The findings of this study will be presented in Philadelphia during the American Society of Nephrology's Kidney Week 2014 on November 11-16. 

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