Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Biological markers of alcohol intake among 4796 subjects injured in accidents.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 10 May 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:1234
  1. L Papoz,
  2. J Weill,
  3. J L'Hoste,
  4. Y Chich,
  5. C Got,
  6. Y Goehrs


    An epidemiological survey was carried out in France in 1982-3 to study the proportions of occasional and chronic drinkers among people injured in accidents of all kinds. The characteristics of 4796 victims recruited in the emergency units of 21 hospitals were recorded. Systematic blood sampling was performed to determine the blood alcohol concentration and two markers of chronic alcohol consumption--gamma-glutamyltransferase activity and mean corpuscular volume. Alcohol was present in the blood of 35% of the injured people, with concentrations exceeding 17.4 mmol/l (0.8 g/l) in one man out of four and in one woman out of 10. gamma-Glutamyltransferase values and mean corpuscular volume were also much higher than in a reference population of healthy subjects, indicating that most of the intoxicated subjects were probably chronic drinkers. This was confirmed by a discriminant analysis which showed an overall proportion of 30% of chronic drinkers among casualties. In France, therefore, the policy for preventing accidents should focus on chronic as much as on occasional drinking.