With respect to binge-drinking, “shot-gunning” a beer involves inserting a hole in the beer can and drinking it FAST. The game is so popular that a shotgun beer opener is even available to interested enthusiasts through the "liquorsnob" website. Similarly, too much of this kind of consumption may eventually lead to a hole in the heart.

Drinking more than one or two drinks per day for women and men, respectively, excessive drinking, as defined in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines, may cause a debilitating condition involving the heart known as “metabolic syndrome.”

Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure which drastically increase the probability of getting cardiovascular disease.

Research published in a recent edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that 58 percent of all current drinkers in the United States admit to excessive alcohol consumption on a regular basis.

In a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999-2002, 1,529 volunteers were examined based on a series of assessments having to do with alcohol intake.

Coordinator of the study, Dr. Amy Fan of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, examined volunteers using a series of tests that included an interview, a physical examination and a blood sample.

In order to link binge drinking with metabolic syndrome, experts needed to determine the overall alcoholic consumption over 12 months. This was attained by measuring quantity consumed, drinking rate, and frequency of drinking.

"Since more than half of current drinkers in our study drank in excess of the Dietary Guidelines limits and reported binge drinking, prevention efforts should focus on reducing alcohol consumption to safer levels," Fan said.

She added that 52 percent of all current drinkers reported at least one episode of binge drinking in the past year.

Above all, Fan wants to make sure more people are aware of what excess alcohol consumption actually is. "Unfortunately, few physicians screen their patients about alcohol use or are knowledgeable about guidelines that define low-risk or moderate drinking."

Besides prevention techniques related to binge drinking, the findings are significant to the undefined cause of metabolic syndrome. The condition, which can be treated in some cases by implementing a healthier lifestyle, is generally associated with aging, genetics and excess caloric intake or low physical activity.