A report presented at the American Heart Association’s 8th Annual Conference on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology suggests that college students who drink heavily may be setting themselves up for heart problems later on in life. The research measured levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in college students who had different drinking patterns (CRP is a blood marker for inflammation that can increase the risk of heart disease). Those who drank heavily (defined as having three or more drinks at least three days per week, or five or more drinks at least two days per week) had significantly higher levels of CRP than those who drank moderately (two to five drinks of alcohol one to two days a week). A drink was defined as: 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz of hard alcohol. “If students are drinking heavily, they probably are going to progress to heart disease much more rapidly,” said co-author Amy Olson, a professor of nutrition at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. At the same time, the study noted that non-drinkers (those who consume no more than one drink a week), had higher CRP levels than moderate drinkers, suggesting that some alcohol may actually lower inflammation in the circulatory system.
While the study only looked at 25 college students, and CRP levels can fluctuate due to a number of factors (having a cold, smoking, being overweight etc.), it still serves as a red flag to college students, warning them that binge drinking or heavy drinking may not only cause immediate problems (vomiting, blackouts, accidents), but may continue to haunt them for years, and even decades to come. To read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s article on this research at Time.com, click here. To read about it on WebMD, click here. To contact the co-author of the study, Dr. Amy Olson, click here.
For more information about issues related to late adolescence and young adulthood, see my book The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life
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