Additionally, 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.
More than one-quarter of the study participants gambled five or more times a year. About one 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 consideration the presence of other disorders such as alcoholism, obesity, smoking and psychiatric illnesses, they found that problem and pathological gamblers were more likely to report angina and cirrhosis of the liver compared to at-risk or low-risk participants. Pathological gamblers were also more likely to have elevated heart rate and other liver diseases in addition to cirrhosis.
Petry says that her colleagues’ study brings pathological gambling into the medical domain. “Some people don’t take gambling as a serious problem. It’s regarded in the same way substance abuse was thirty years ago. Our study showed that pathological gamblers are getting sicker more and utilizing health services more, so there is a greater societal cost of this addiction than is often acknowledged.”
MEDICA.de; Source: Health Behavior News Service