TUESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Beer is the alcohol of choice for Hispanics in the United States, a new study shows.
"This is important to know, because once we can identify a type of beverage that is more associated with risky drinking, such as binge drinking, then prevention policies can be developed to target that beverage and that type of drinking," study corresponding author Raul Caetano, a professor of epidemiology and regional dean (Dallas) at The University of Texas School of Public Health, said in a news release issued by the study's publisher.
The findings were expected to be published in the January issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Researchers surveyed 5,224 adults from households in Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Houston and Los Angeles about their drinking habits.
Beer was the preferred beverage of all Hispanics, regardless if they were of Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Cuban American or South/Central American heritage. Of male Hispanic beer drinkers, the beverage constituted 52 percent to 72 percent of their total alcohol consumption. Among Hispanic women who drank beer, it made up 32 percent to 64 percent of their total consumption.
"One difference we found was that wine was closely associated with binge drinking among Cuban American and South/Central American women, more so than beer," Caetano said. "Furthermore, Puerto Ricans and Mexican-Americans seemed to drink more than the other two groups, and thus would be more at risk for alcohol-related problems."
Caetano said this knowledge is helpful, because many people think beer is a "safer or less harmful beverage" than wine or hard liquor.
"It is true that the alcohol content in beer is lower than that of liquor, but what the study showed is that beer is the beverage most associated with binge drinking, which is a dangerous way to drink alcohol because of the impairment associated with such a high number of drinks: five for men and four for women," he said.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about alcohol abuse.
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