Experts have known for decades that drinking is a common coping response to stress - a phenomenon called stress-reactive drinking, said Paul Gilbert from University of Iowa (UI) in the US.

"We recognise discrimination as a stressor, and we recognise people drink in response to stress. But do they drink in response to discrimination?" said Gilbert.

Gilbert searched six online databases for studies related to discrimination and drinking, narrowing his potential sources down to about 1,200 scientific studies that met his criteria.

From there, he identified 97 papers with quantitative evidence that showed a link between discrimination and heavy and hazardous drinking.

Seventy-one studies involved racial discrimination, and the rest examined discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender.

"Our study supports the notion that discrimination is harmful to health, specifically through alcohol," said Gilbert.

The findings were published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

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