New Guidelines Suggest Doctors Should Screen All Adults for Alcohol Abuse

Next time you head to the doctor for your annual physical your visit might include a “drinking checkup.”

The United States Preventative Services Task Force is advising primary care physicians to screen all adults for unhealthy alcohol use, and if they find a patient is drinking too much, offer a brief counseling session to encourage them to cut back. The Task Force’s comments were published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Unhealthy alcohol use is currently the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, reports CNN. The group considers unhealthy alcohol use as drinking that frequently goes beyond the recommended limits. Currently, the suggested limits for men ages 21–64 is no more than four drinks in a day and fourteen drinks over the course of the week. For women, those numbers are slightly lower. Women are suggested to only consume three drinks a day, with a maximum of seven drinks over the course of the week. The same guidelines for women apply to men over the age of 64 as well.

Earlier this year the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that alcohol consumption is responsible for 1 in 20 deaths globally each year, killing up to 3 million people annually. Cutting down on drinking, even by a small amount, can have positive effects on the health of heavy drinkers.

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