American adults have been drinking alcoholic beverages more often during the coronavirus pandemic – 14 percent more often, according to a report in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The increase in drinking frequency has been higher for women (up 17 percent) and for those ages 30 to 59 (up 19 percent). The findings stem from a study by Rand Corp., a research organization, that involved a nationally representative sample of 1,540 adults ages 30 to 80 and compared their self-reported consumption of alcohol this past spring with drinking habits for the same time the previous year.

Women also registered about a 40 percent increase both in incidents of binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks within about two hours, and in problems linked to their alcohol consumption, such as risky behavior. The research did not determine why drinking frequency has increased, but various health experts speculate that more people are turning to alcoholic beverages to cope with pandemic-related stress, anxiety, depression, isolation and boredom.

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To protect their health, adults generally are urged to keep alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one a day for women, considered moderate drinking.

Excessive drinking can raise the risks for liver disease, depression, breast cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack, as well as accidental injuries and suicide.

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