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Alcohol May Help Protect Trauma Patients

Researchers theorize it might change the body's chemical response to injury

THURSDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Trauma patients who were drunk before they were injured were more likely to survive than sober trauma patients, U.S. researchers have found. Another recent study had a similar finding.

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.

The findings appear in the October issue of the journal American Surgeon.

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

It's believed that alcohol may reduce the risk of death by changing the body's chemical response to injury.

A study published in the September issue of the Archives of Surgery looked at more than 38,000 head trauma patients and found that the death rate was 7.7 percent for those who'd consumed alcohol and 9.7 percent for those who hadn't had alcohol.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about injury prevention.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, news release, Oct. 1, 2009

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