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Odds Are That Gamblers Have More Health Problems

People who gamble at least five times a year have more health problems than people who gamble less frequently, a new study reveals.//

And people with a severe gambling addiction are the most likely to report serious health problems, such as increased heart rate, angina and liver disease when compared to people who have never had a gambling problem.

“One of the questions that has never been answered is whether gambling is associated with health risks,” said co-author Nancy Petry, Ph.D., an expert on gambling disorders from the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington.

The study, which appears in the November issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which comprises more than 43,000 Americans.

Participants had an average age of 45 and a median household income of $35,000, with about a third living in households with income above $50,000. Study participants were nearly evenly divided between men and women, and 71 percent were white.

More than one-quarter of the participants gambled five or more times a year, which included playing cards for money; playing bingo or keno; gambling at casinos; betting on horses, dogs or sports games; buying lottery tickets and playing the stock market.

About 1 percent of participants were considered to be problem gamblers, but less than 0.5 percent were identified as being pathological gamblers — individuals with a severe gambling addiction.

The researchers took into account demographic factors including age, gender, ethnicity and income, but still found that gamblers had increased rates of high blood pressure, obesity and alcoholism and were more likely to be smokers. In addition, these at-risk gamblers were more likely to have received treatment in an emergency room or reported a severe injury in the past year.

Even when researchers took into considera
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