Primary Care Doctors Should Screen Adult Patients for Unhealthy Drinking: Task Force

Primary care doctors should screen all adult patients for unhealthy drinking habits, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says in new statement.

It also said doctors should provide brief counseling for those who drink more than the recommended limits, CNN reported.

The statement was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Among men aged 21 to 64, unhealthy alcohol use is defined as more than four drinks in a single day and 14 drinks in a week, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

That definition for women and older men is more than three drinks in one day and more than seven drinks in a week. There is no safe level of alcohol use for pregnant women, because drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects and developmental problems in children, CNN reported.

Unhealthy alcohol use is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to the task force.

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