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Canada, control your binge drinking: Medical journal

A new trend is taking hold among many Canadians - particularly the young - and it's quickly becoming a source of growing alarm for the country's medical professionals: Binge drinking.

A new editorial published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, one of the country's top medical publications, says the country's binge drinking problem is getting out of control and that it's time for a wake-up call.

Nearly nine per cent of Canadians have reported binge drinking, according to the editorial, and the majority of them were between ages 15 and 24. In other countries, binge drinking rates are as high as 90 per cent for men and 65 per cent for women, which could signal that binge drinking in Canada may continue to rise.

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Binge drinkers, according to the report, constitute men who consume five drinks or more in a sitting or women who consume four drinks or more in a sitting.

It may come as a surprise, but people who binge drink are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, for instance, than a daily heavy drinker. Binge drinking is also linked to violence, injuries and unsafe sex.

Many experts say the growth in global binge drinking rates is due to the increasing availability of alcohol, cheap prices and advertising.

Now, the CMAJ editorial argues that it's time for comprehensive public strategies to educate consumers about the dangerous health effects associated with binge drinking and get a better understanding of the extent of the problem in Canada. The CMAJ says Canada also needs a strong surveillance program to track binge drinking rates in order to apply public health solutions.

Parents should also be warning their children about the serious problems linked to alcohol and binge drinking, the editorial says.

Do you agree that Canada has a binge drinking problem? And do we need a public health strategy to address it?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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