As temperatures rise, most people are celebrating the end of an excessively cold winter, and cheering the return of warmth. That means clothing gets lighter and looser, and people tend to hang out more. It also means more nights out, more parties and often, more alcohol. For black men, there are both monetary and health costs when purchasing and consuming alcohol. This is especially true for black men who have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), excessive alcohol consumption is known to cause about 79,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, but a new study released by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and the Lewin Group shows that it also has a huge impact on our wallets.
The cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the U.S. reached $223.5 billion in 2006, or about $1.90 per drink. Almost three-quarters of these costs were due to binge drinking, which is defined as consuming 4 or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women or 5 or more drinks per occasion for men. Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive alcohol consumption in the U.S.
The researchers found the cost of excessive alcohol consumption to be far-reaching, affecting many aspects of the excessive drinker's life and on the lives of those around them. The costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72% of the total cost), healthcare expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11% of total), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9% of total), and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6% of the total).
These statistics are often supported by the amount of alcohol men consume when hanging out with their friends. Sporting events, clubs, bars and house parties seem to be the most detrimental since these environments tend to encourage more alcohol consumption, which spells danger for black men who may be predisposed to family health issues.
While moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, excessive alcohol consumption can actually decrease your blood sugar -- sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially for people with type 1 diabetes. Drinking alcohol can also interfere with the positive effects of oral diabetes medicines or insulin.
If you're wondering about the type of alcohol you drink, it really doesn't matter if you're chugging beer, wine, or liquor. One 12-ounce beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. It is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person most, not the type of alcoholic drink.
Alcohol affects every organ in the body and acts as a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver by enzymes, but the liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, leaving the excess alcohol to circulate throughout the body. The intensity of the effect of alcohol on the body is directly related to the amount consumed.
Black men should heed the warning: there really are no health benefits of alcohol consumption. The negatives are far too devastating to our health, and even more so for black men who also smoke, take drugs, or carry high levels of stress.
As with most things we consume, moderation is key. However, the removing alcohol will prove more beneficial for men when costs and health benefits are considered.