Alcohol poisoning kills more than six people each day in America, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released today.
But they're not the people that even experts thought were vulnerable.
The data shows that alcohol poisoning -- a result of binge drinking -- kills more than 2,200 Americans a year, but 70 percent of them weren't identified as alcoholics. Three in four of these deaths involved adults between 35 and 64 years old, and most of them occurred among white men, according to the report.
"This study shows that alcohol poisoning deaths are not just a problem among young people," report co-author Dr. Robert Brewer, who leads the CDC Alcohol Program, said in a statement.
The survey is interesting because it points toward a new alcohol poisoning demographic that addiction experts weren't aware of, said psychologist Paul Rinaldi, who directs the Addiction Institute of New York, Mount Sinai Roosevelt and Mount Sinai St. Luke's. He said many of those who died were probably weekend binge drinkers who function normally during the week and don't think they have a problem.
"What I think very interesting in this is that these people have probably been doing this for a long time, so why are they now dying of it?" Rinaldi said. "This is showing the dangers, the real dangers, of binge drinking, which we tend to associate with younger people."
He said it may show that drinking over time has an effect on the body that leads to some kind of biological change that contributes alcohol poisoning. Fatal alcohol poisoning can occurs when the brain is no longer able to control breathing, heart rate or temperature properly as a result of binge drinking.
He said the study doesn't point at causation, but raises new questions for further research.