CDC: Binge Drinking Huge U.S. Health Problem

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One-in-four adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are involved binge drinking, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because 80 percent of binge drinkers are not alcoholics, it's not recognized as a problem, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D. said Tuesday during a news teleconference.

A binge, as defined by the CDC, is having several drinks -- four for women and five for men -- in a couple of hours. Anyone who's done this even once in the last month is a binge drinker.

Men are twice as likely as women to binge drink, and the practice is more common among whites than blacks.

The CDC calculates that binge drinkers account for more than half of the 79,000 annual alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. and for two-thirds of the 2.3 million years of potential life lost in 2001-2005. Six percent of all alcohol-attributed deaths -- 4,675 per year -- are in people under age 21.

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