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College students are moving back into the dorm. Schools and parents worry about binge drinking that may plague our young people. A new study shows that we may also need to worry about binge drinking in the over 50 crowd.

Dan G. Blazer, MD, PhD, and Li-Tzy Wu, ScD, of Duke University, reported their research on binge drinking in patients over 50 online in the American Journal of Psychiatry. They found a total of 20% of men and 6% of women over age 50 reported binge drinking in the last year.

The researchers used data from the 2005 and 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health which was conducted among 10,953 patients ages 50 and up. Among those surveyed, 66% 66% of men and 55% of women reported alcohol use during the previous year.

The researchers found that binge drinking was more frequent among those ages 50 to 64. In this age group, 23% of the men and 9% of the women reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past year.

Binge drinking in those over age 65 was reported in 14% of men and 3% of women.

Race was not found to be a risk factor for binge-drinking in men, but it was in women. African-American women had a prevalence of 10% compared with 6% for white women.

Binge drinking in the over 50 year olds was associated with higher income and being separated, divorced, or widowed in men. For women over 50, it was associated with being employed and using prescription drugs. For both genders, it was also associated with use of tobacco and illicit drugs.

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