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Women and Alcohol: Why They Don’t Mix

Posted in Women

Studies show that alcohol takes more of a toll on women physically, mentally, and socially. Women become intoxicated more quickly than men and don’t absorb and metabolize alcohol the same way. In addition, women have less water in their bodies than men, so the alcohol is more concentrated. Aging also causes the amount of water in the body to decrease, making it harder to metabolize alcohol.

Although fewer women drink heavily than men, women have as many or more problems associated with their drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcoholic women have death rates 50 percent to 100 percent higher than men, including deaths from liver disease, cancer, heart disease, alcohol-related accidents, brain diseases, and suicide. Heavy drinking also raises a woman’s risk for being a victim of sexual assault and other acts of violence, and teenage girls who drink have a higher risk of unprotected sex and unplanned pregnancy.

Drinking is more likely to damage a woman’s health than a man’s, even if she has been drinking less alcohol for a shorter time. In addition, drinking while pregnant can result in fetal alcohol syndrome, a birth defect that can cause problems with learning, memory, attention, and problem-solving.

Women who have two or more drinks per day also raise their risk for breast cancer, especially if breast cancer runs in the family. Recent data from a study of one million middle-aged women in the United Kingdom showed that moderate drinking increased the risk for many types of cancer. Fifteen out of 1,000 women were diagnosed with cancer in the moderate drinking group, and eleven of the fifteen had breast cancer.

According to the NIAAA, moderate alcohol use is one drink per day for women and two for men. Women who have more than seven drinks per week or more than four on any given day are more likely to develop alcohol dependency. One drink is equal to a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.