By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You would think it is an important question to ask every visit but most doctors don’t ask patients about alcohol use. Perhaps they should because 38 million adults in the United States drink too much.

The CDC estimated in 2006 that alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths in America each year and costs the economy $224 billion. Here are the startling numbers:

Only 1 in 6 people have ever talked to their doctor or other health care professional about alcohol use, and among admitted binge drinkers, only 1 in 4 have ever had this conversation.

Alcohol screening and brief counseling has been shown to reduce drinking by 25%.

Perhaps the most disturbing group: only 17% of pregnant women reported talking about drinking with their doctors.

The information is from the CDC.

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