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A study from Pennsylvania State University has found that underweight heavy drinkers are more likely to die from cancer, cardiac disease, and other illnesses. Reports indicate that overconsumption of alcohol is one of the most common reasons for preventable death in the U.S. About 1 in 10 adults die from excessive alcohol intake.

According to a postdoctoral scholar and study author from Pennsylvania State University’s Edna Bennet Pierce Prevention Research Center, the findings could lead to people reducing the risk for death by heavy drinking.

How researchers conducted the study

The researchers evaluated the National Health Interview Survey, which looks into the drinking habits of Americans. This study investigated 200,000 adults who were 35 to 85 years old. The original study ran from 2001 to 2011. The researchers believed that the survey was ideal as it gave the health behavior of people from varying backgrounds.

Researchers measured how much people drank per their weight and evaluated how it affected their mortality. The team defined obesity, overweight, normal weight, and underweight by guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The regulator’s definition of underweight was anyone with a body mass index (BMI) lower than 18.5.

Researchers thought overweight people would be more at risk

At the start of the study, researchers believed that overweight people would be most likely to die from excessive alcohol consumption. However,  underweight people seemed to be a more considerable risk. The team is still investigating how underweight people are more likely to be affected by drinking too much alcohol.

Researchers theorize that it could result from using alcohol as an emotional escape from one problem, which caused them to be more prone to infection and nutritional deficiency.

The National Institute in Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that 4.5% of women and 8.3% of men in 2019 had engaged in heavy drinking in the past month. The CDC defined excessive alcohol intake as men who take more than 15 drinks weekly and women taking over eight drinks weekly. However, this doesn’t make them alcoholic, as most individuals drinking heavily don’t have an alcohol dependence

The team published the results from their study in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.