'Power Hour' makes for risky drinking

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As an alcohol health services researcher, I encourage us to read between the lines before applauding Ali Spagnola's use of the "Power Hour" to promote her music ("The Battle Over 'Power Hour' More Than a Brief Binge," March 3). I have three main concerns.

Drinking this amount places the average person at blood alcohol concentrations almost two to three times the legal limit for driving (0.08 in Pennsylvania). A 190-pound male drinking the equivalent of 7.5 beers in 60 minutes would have a BAC of approximately 0.14. A 150-pound female would have a BAC of about 0.21.

Drinking this amount also constitutes "risky drinking," defined by the National Institutes of Health as more than 14 drinks per week or four per occasion (for men), and more than seven drinks per week or three per occasion (for women). Drinking above these levels is associated with increased risks of injury, illness and other problems.

The "Power Hour" reflects the serious epidemic of binge drinking in this country, especially among adolescents, young adults and women, recognized last month by the Centers for Disease Control. According to the CDC, drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 80,000 deaths in the United States each year, and in 2006, cost us $223.5 billion from losses in productivity, health care, crime and other expenses.

Perhaps Ms. Spagnola's strategy isn't so commendable. And what does it say if people have to be that intoxicated to enjoy your music?




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