Women & Alcohol
Alcohol Abuse Has More Serious Short Term & Long-Term Consequences For Women Than Men
According to researchers, there is considerable evidence to indicate that women are more susceptible to alcohol's adverse effects. This information is critically valuable to all women, but especially to college-age women because of their high quantity and frequency of drinking.
If a man and woman, of equal body weight, consume the same amount of alcohol, over the same time period, she will have a higher level of alcohol in her blood and thus have a higher level of intoxication. There appears to be three primary factors which contribute to this higher BAC level in women:
- Women have lower total body water content than men of comparable size because by nature they have higher levels of essential body fat, which carries little water. Therefore, there is less water in a woman's body to "dilute" the alcohol once it is consumed.
- Less alcohol is oxidized in a women's stomach, therefore more alcohol reaches the blood of a woman.
- Women have relatively lower activity rates of alcohol dehydrogenase, the primary enzyme involved in the metabolism of alcohol, which results in higher levels of alcohol reaching the blood stream. Fluctuations in hormonal levels during menstrual cycles appear to effect the rate of alcohol metabolism. Researchers found that alcohol elimination is the fastest on the cycle's first day and slowest on the 24th, or final day. The rate appears to be even slower if oral contraceptives are being used.
In regard to health risks, drinking the equivalent of 10 drinks per week increases a woman's risk of breast cancer, particularly for women who are under the age of 30 and are consuming this level of alcohol.
The body excretes calcium at twice its normal rate with even low alcohol intake. Failure to maintain adequate levels of calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis for women, a common and crippling bone disease.
Women develop alcoholism more quickly then men. There appears to be a "telescoped" development of the disease of alcoholism in women, meaning women tend to become alcoholic even if they are consuming less alcohol and have a shorter drinking history than males. Female alcoholics have greater rates of death from circulatory disorders than male alcoholics.
Women are more susceptible to developing liver disease at lower rates of consumption and with a shorter drinking history than men. Once women sustain liver damage, they are more likely to die than men.
Women need to be very careful regarding how much and how often they drink. It is recommended that women limit themselves to no more than one drink per day and never more than four times per week. Pregnant women should consume no alcohol at all.