According to a new study there is a link between average temperature, hours of sunlight and alcohol consumption, suggesting cold climates linking to those who are a heavy drinker.
Alcohol is a vasodilator, relaxing blood vessels and increasing the flow of warm blood to the skin, therefore in cold climates, researchers have found that alcohol consumption is much higher. Moreover, data from 193 countries provided evidence that cold climates contributed to a higher incidence of individuals becoming a heavy drinker and also liver disease.
Being a heavy drinker in cold climates
Senior author Ramon Bataller, associate director of the Pittsburgh Liver Research Centre, USA, explains: “This is the first study that systematically demonstrates that worldwide and in America, in colder areas and areas with less sun, you have more drinking and more alcoholic cirrhosis.”
The study, published online in the Hepatology journal, used data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organisation.
Findings suggested that the colder the weather and the less sunlight individuals are exposed to, affects consumption of alcohol. Moreover, drinking also is linked to depression, which tends to be more prevalent in cold climates and when sunlight is scarce.
Dr Peter McCann, medical adviser to Castle Craig Hospital, Scotland, said: “We now have new evidence that the weather, and in particular the temperature and amount of sunlight that we are exposed to, has a strong influence on how much alcohol we consume.
“Furthermore, this weather-related alcohol consumption is directly linked to our chances of developing the most dangerous form of liver disease – cirrhosis – which can ultimately end in liver failure and death.”
Should there be restrictions in alcohol advertising during winter months?
McCann added: “Stricter laws on alcohol pricing are surely justified when we consider the devastating combined effect of low sunlight and cheaper alcohol on consumption.
“Advertising laws should be addressed with restrictions during winter months strongly considered.”
Evidence of the climate link comes as the WHO presents new data on alcohol consumption in Europe at a summit in Edinburgh on Monday.
According to WHO, levels remain high and almost half of the adult male population are at risk of both short and long-term health and social problems due to harmful drinking patterns.
Earlier this year, legislation on minimum pricing for alcohol came into force in Scotland to tackle increased levels of alcohol consumption and to help those that are a heavy drinker.