Alcohol Disorders – the increasing risk for women

Alcohol Disorders – the increasing risk for women

By Catherine Walker

Researchers from Columbia University examined more than 30 published studies and  found surprising trends in alcohol research and their findings. One such finding is the increased risk for alcohol disorders among women.

Research findings ca be found online and will be published in the journal Alcoholism : Clinical & Experimental Research.

Katherine M. Keyes, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said ‘The literature on alcohol consumption indicates that younger birth cohorts, especially women, are increasingly at risk for the development of alcohol use disorders.  Given that alcoholism among women is increasing, there is a need for specific public health prevention and intervention efforts.’

Researchers found that people born after World War II are more likely to binge drink and develop alcohol related disorders.  Environmental factors such as policies, laws, social norms and availability all play a part in this.

Whilst heavy episodic drinking and the development of alcoholism and/or binge drinking have increased in America, this has not been the case in Australia and Western Europe.

The researchers not that the United States differs from Australia and Europe in that the U.S. has a fairly large number of people who do not drink at all, although over time, the number of non-drinkers is decreasing.

‘The results on gender highlight the need for increasing research on the social etiology of alcohol use disorders,’ said Keyes.

 ‘Traditionally, gender differences are explained by biological differences in the ability of the body to metabolise alcohol and other biological mechanism.  These results suggest that the magnitude of gender differences changes over time, highlighting an important role for societal factors.’

The investigators believe that this review provides evidence that problem drinking among young women is increasing which is an important finding for public health professionals.

The opinion of experts is that heavy drinking poses unique health and social risks for women.  This arises from the differences in average body size, for example,  woman becomes more intoxicated than a man consuming the same quantity of alcohol.

Women who drink heavily are also more vulnerable to sexual violence and greater risks of chronic diseases.

Source: Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health 

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