Study Finds A Relationship Between Cold Weather And Drinking Alcohol

By Stacey Burling
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The study, which was published in the “Journal of Hepatology” found that drinking levels and liver disease were correlated to climate and sunlight.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Now that our days are getting colder and shorter, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh gives us reason to think about the odd relationship between alcohol and weather.

It found that throughout the world and in the United States, drinking levels and liver disease correlated with climate and sunlight.

Drinking and disease rose as average temperatures and hours of sunlight fell.

The study, which was published in the journal Hepatology, has public health implications at a time when deaths from cirrhosis of the liver have been rising, particularly among 25- to 34-year-olds.

Ramon Bataller, senior author and chief of hepatology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said knowing that heavy drinking is more common in colder climes could help officials who want to reduce damage from alcohol to direct resources toward regions at the highest risk.

He also suggested that someone with a family history of alcoholism who has a choice between jobs in, say, Missouri and Minnesota would do well to pick the warmer state.

The World Health Organization estimates that almost 6 percent of deaths throughout the world can be attributed to alcohol misuse.

Bataller said people in colder climates may drink more because alcohol tends to make them feel warmer.

On the other hand, people in hot places are more likely to feel uncomfortable or light-headed when they drink.

For many people, darkness can also exacerbate depression, which is associated with drinking, though alcohol is a depressant. Snowy climates might also increase isolation, which can make depression worse.

While people in frigid places like Russia are known for heavy drinking, Bataller said the connection between drinking and climate had not been studied systematically before.

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