ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A local drug- and alcohol-abuse counselor says binge drinking among women is growing in the St. Louis area, reflecting a similar rise being seen nationally.

The Centers for Disease Control reports one in eight women say they binge drink about three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per binge. Dan Duncan with the local office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse says this is a notable spike.

“We have seen an increase in the last several years in frequency of young women, specifically,” he said. “I think that’s where a lot of these problems with alcohol and women start, is when they’re in their developmental years: high school, undergraduate women in college. Especially women who go away to school, definitely increasing their drinking, their intake, their frequency, how much they’re drinking.”

The CDC’s “Vital Signs” report, published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Jan. 8, found one in five high school aged girls admitted to binge drinking last year. Binge drinking costs 23,000 lives and 633,000 years of potential life lost each year during 2001 through 2005 for women and girls in the U.S., the authors wrote.

Duncan says the message needs to get out to these young women that binge drinking can lead to serious health issues including breast cancer, sexually transmitted disease, fetal alcohol syndrome, heart problems, kidney issues and circulation concerns in addition to an increased death risk from violence or auto accident.

“We have to do a better job at informing young women, adolescent females, that these risk factors are in place and to drink at a young age, especially in binge drinking situations, is putting them at risk,” Duncan said.

The Distilled Spirits Council, the trade association representing producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the U.S., told CBS in a statement that while they agree that over-consumption of alcohol is bad for any societal group, they feel that the CDC misrepresented how the problem of binge drinking is “unrecognized.”

They argued that the alcohol and beverage industry has made many moves to help combat the problem, including encouraging people to recognize the restrictions set in place for alcohol in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. In addition, they cite the CDC’s own data that binge drinking among girls has declined 25 percent over the last decade.

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