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Study: More New Yorkers drink excessively

Here's sobering news: New Yorkers are imbibing booze in increasingly deadlier doses.

About 1,500 residents die annually as a result of alcohol-related deaths - from car crashes to poisoning to chronic liver disease - according to the city Health Department, which Monday released its first comprehensive study on drinking.

"Alcohol misuse can also disrupt one's well-being by jeopardizing work, finances and relationships," said Dr. Thomas Farley, city health commissioner.

Alcohol contributes to 1 in 10 hospital cases, with emergency room visits vaulting from 22,000 in 2003 to almost 74,000 in 2009 among New Yorkers aged 21 to 64. Since residents in higher-income areas historically drink more, neighborhoods with the highest proportion of emergency room visits related to alcohol include Greenwich Village-SoHo, Chelsea-Clinton and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Excessive drinking is a major factor in the city's boozing problem: While almost half of adult New Yorkers don't even drink, the majority of those that do are either "heavy" or "binge" drinkers. Binge means they've consumed five or more drinks on one occasion in the past 30 days, the survey said.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released last month compares states, not cities, and the percentage of binge drinking among adults in New York falls in a middle range. Annually, 79,000 Americans on average died from alcohol-associated causes from 2001 to 2005.

"Binge drinking is connected with unintended pregnancies and with crime," said Dr. Robert Brewer, leader of the CDC's Alcohol Program. "Those need to be considered when there's a societal debate about what is an appropriate level of drinking and the price [of alcohol]."

The CDC has made suggestions to policymakers to try to curb binge drinking, including limiting the number of places that might serve alcohol in a given area.

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