By MONIQUE DEVEREUX health reporter

Drinking too much alcohol may be bad for your health, but an Auckland study suggests that the height of the drinking venue may also be a serious health hazard.

Presented at the final day of the Public Health Association Conference in Auckland yesterday, the study found that a high number of serious-injury falls involving inebriate people were from heights of more than one metre.

That included balconies, window ledges, cliffs and rooftops.

The seven-month study was funded by the Health Research Council and the Alcohol Advisory Council, and headed by Virginia Fairnie, an Auckland University research fellow.

She told the conference yesterday that her study - Can We Really Say Young Intoxicated People Fall More Softly - could not give a definite answer.

The Auckland survey comprised 334 people aged 16 to 29 in hospital emergency rooms.

Fifty-eight per cent of the alcohol-related falls caused moderate injuries. Of the non-alcohol related fall victims, 59 per cent sustained moderate injuries. Non-alcohol related falls were mostly sporting, and did not involve falling from one level to another.

More worrying were the heights from which they fell.

One of the recorded falls was over 50m, and many were over 10m. Many were at the drinking venue, and others happened within six hours of drinking.

Ms Fairnie said this could warrant consideration of higher balcony barriers, barring public access to rooftops and increasing the use of safety glass in drinking environments.

Some people had thought they would fall more softly because of their level of inebriation.

On average, men had consumed 12 standard drinks and women 10. The council's recommended maximums are six and four, respectively.

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