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Surprising Science

How Alcohol Levels Affect Trauma Victim Survival Rates

Research suggests that the higher the amount of alcohol present, the more likely it is that the person will live.

What’s the Latest Development?

A recent University of Illinois-Chicago study suggests that while alcohol may play a role in a person’s acquiring a traumatic injury, it may also play a role in helping their body survive that injury, with higher alcohol levels corresponding to higher rates of survival. Study author Lee Friedman examined 14 years’ worth of data from more than 190,000 patients at Illinois trauma centers with blood alcohol levels between 0 and 0.5 percent. He found that, for all types of injuries except burns, mortality rates went down as the levels rose, to the point where rates were cut nearly in half for those who were the most intoxicated.

What’s the Big Idea?

Friedman is careful to note that death doesn’t occur from the injury itself, but from the body’s physiological response to the injury, and that it’s that response that seems to benefit from an increased alcohol level. He is conducting further tests to see if there’s a relation between the two. He also makes sure to mention that his study was conducted using data from victims who survived long enough to receive treatment; any studies proving that intoxicated victims were more likely that sober victims to die before getting to the hospital would affect the results.

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