New Study Suggests You’re More Likely To Drink Heavily If You Live In A Cold, Dark Climate
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Research has shown that people who live in a cold, dark places are more likely to drink heavily.
A study by the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology suggested that people living in colder regions with less sunlight drink more alcohol than those who live in warmer, sunnier climates.
Published in Hepatology, the study entitled 'Colder weather and fewer sunlight hours increase alcohol consumption and alcoholic cirrhosis worldwide', collected data from 193 countries and found that climate had a direct effect on binge drinking and alcohol-related illnesses such as liver disease.
The authors also used data from the World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, and the Institute on Health Metrics and Evaluation to come to their conclusions.
The report found that as sunlight hours and temperature decreased, alcohol consumption increased.
If you've found yourself reaching for that extra glass of wine on cold, dark winter nights, there's a reason. Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means that drinking can increase the flow of warm blood to the skin, and therefore make us feel warmer.
There's also a link between drinking and depression, which can be directly affected by the weather and the amount of sunlight.
Ramon Bataller, the senior author of the study, said: "It's something that everyone has assumed for decades, but no one has scientifically demonstrated it.
"Why do people in Russia drink so much? Why in Wisconsin? Everybody assumes that's because it's cold, but we couldn't find a single paper linking climate to alcohol intake or alcoholic cirrhosis.
"This is the first study that systematically demonstrates that worldwide and in America, in colder areas and areas with less sun, you have more drinking and more alcoholic cirrhosis."
In the wake of the study, experts called for stricter restrictions on both alcohol advertising and pricing, especially during the winter months.
Dr Peter McCann, who contributed to the study, said: "We now have new evidence that the weather, and in particular the temperature and amount of sunlight that we are exposed to has a strong influence on how much alcohol we consume.
"Furthermore, this weather-related alcohol consumption is directly linked to our chances of developing the most dangerous form of liver disease - cirrhosis - which can ultimately end in liver failure and death."
Calling for laws to address these issues, Dr McCann added: "Stricter laws on alcohol pricing are surely justified when we consider the devastating combined effect of low sunlight and cheaper alcohol on consumption.
"Advertising laws should be addressed with restrictions during winter months strongly considered."
If you need more help, support or advice surrounding alcohol, visit here.
Words by: Deborah Cicurel