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Odds Are That Gamblers Have More Health Problems

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Gambling and Health

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

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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

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