Booze May Save Drunken Trauma Patients

Trauma patients have better chance of survival if intoxicated, according to study

By Olsen Ebright
|  Friday, Oct 2, 2009  |  Updated 8:55 AM EDT
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Booze May Save Drunken Trauma Patients

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Trauma patients have a better chance of survival if intoxicated, according to a new study.

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An intoxicated friend hands you his or her beer and says, "Watch this."

A story like that usually ends with a trip to the ER. Obviously alcohol is to blame. But, according to a new study, alcohol may actually be the reason your friend survives.

According to the study, researchers believe alcohol changes a victim's chemical response to injury, resulting in a lower risk of death, U.S. News & World reported:

The latest study of 7,985 trauma patients found that 7 percent of sober patients died compared to 1 percent of intoxicated patients. All of the patients were of similar age and had similar injuries.

But before you try that next keg stand, be aware, this study isn't a license to binge drink.

"This study is not encouraging the use of alcohol," said principal investigator Dr. Christian de Virgilio of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

"It is seeking to further explore earlier studies that had found alcohol may improve the body's response to severe injuries. If alcohol is proven to improve the body's response to traumatic injury, it could lead to treatments that help patients survive and recover more quickly," Virgilio said.

So if you really want to up your chances of surviving a trauma, steer clear of the sauce all together.

"Hundreds of thousands of deaths occur each year due to alcohol-related intentional and unintentional injuries, and alcohol is involved in up to 30 percent of adult hospital admissions, particularly those to emergency rooms," according to the World Health Organization.

The study appears in the October issue of American Surgeon.

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