Places like Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Michigan and pretty much all of Russia get a bad rap for drinking too much alcohol. But it turns out, it might not be their fault — it’s the weather that makes them do it.
According to new research published in the journal Hematology, people in chilly parts of the planet actually do drink more alcohol. Of course, we kind of figured this one already. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that in the U.S., states that experience colder weather consume the most alcohol.
“It’s something that everyone has assumed for decades, but no one has scientifically demonstrated it,” senior author Ramon Battler, M.D., Ph.D., chief of hematology at UPMC, and professor of medicine at Pitt, told Science Daily. “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 was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology by analyzing data from the World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization. A total of 193 countries were included in the study.
Findings showed that as temperatures dropped, and hours of sunlight decreased, people increased their alcohol intake. These factors were also associated with higher levels of binge drinking and liver diseases.
The findings aren’t surprising since a glass of wine or a cozy cocktail can actually ease the cold feeling. Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it increases the flow of blood, therefore warmth, to the skin. In Siberia, this effect is pleasant, but not so much in the Sahara, which is why people in warmer clients may shy away more.
While one or two drinks isn’t typically a big deal, doctors don’t recommend overdoing it, and in these regions, unfortunately, binge drinking is also more prevalent. Fewer hours of sunlight has been linked to depression and depression is known to be a risk factor for binge drinking.
The research could be helpful in the future guiding policy initiatives that aim to reduce the burden of alcoholism and alcohol-relate liver diseases toward geographic areas where alcohol is more likely to be problematic.