While it is common knowledge that people who are very drunk are much more prone to both accidents and fights that lead to injuries, new research on injuries treated at an emergency room in Switzerland indicates that even moderate alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk of personal harm.

On average one in four of the injuries treated at the emergency room were alcohol-related, said public health researcher Kerve Keundig, reaching a peak on Friday and Saturday nights, when more than 80 percent of injuries were alcohol related.

The study found that the risk of suffering injury increased even after consumption of small amounts of alcohol. Keundig, of Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, suggested that prevention programs focus more attention on the risks and consequences involved in moderate drinking.

The research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and several other government agencies.

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Inside Science News Service is supported by the American Institute of Physics.