Doctors urged to ask patients about use of alcohol

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DENVER -- The next time you go to your primary care doctor, get ready to talk about how much alcohol you drink. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is advising doctors to screen all adults for alcohol abuse, and their updated guidelines were just published in JAMA this week.

Doctors say assessing this information is just as important as getting your blood pressure and checking your weight.

The suggested limit for men ages 21 to 64 is no more than four alcoholic drinks per day, and no more than 14 per week. For women, the suggested limit is no more than three alcoholic drinks per day and no more than seven in a week.

“Particularly when I see a lot of younger patients, binge drinking is a big issue. So we often see people listing 6, 7, 8 alcoholic beverages in one day. So that’s an opportunity to say, 'OK here’s an opportunity. You`re young, let`s kind of talk about alcohol misuse,'” said Dr Scott Joy, and internist with HealthONE at Swedish Medical Center. He says he will assess the patient, advise them on the recommendations, agree to a plan, offer support and set a follow up.

Excessive long-term alcohol use can cause a risk of liver failure, stomach ulcers and esophageal bleeding.

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