When it comes to drinking alcohol in general, men and women are not equal. Women bear the brunt of alcohol’s negative effects the most. This is especially true for those women who drink to excess.
The National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that women end up with higher amounts of alcohol in their blood and become more impaired than men after drinking equal amounts of alcohol.
But that’s not all. Here are nine reasons why women should drink less alcohol than men.
1) Alcohol is diluted differently in men and women.
There are differences in the capacities of each gender for diluting alcohol. Body water works to dilute alcohol. Men typically have around 61 percent of body water. Women have a lot less — around 52 percent. So men are naturally built to dilute alcohol more efficiently than women, said HealthStatus.com.
2) Women have more body fat.
Body fat is directly related to the speed of alcohol absorption and metabolism. Fat does not absorb alcohol, so alcohol remains highly concentrated in the bloodstream. Women tend to have more body fat than men, thus their brains and organs get more exposed to alcohol.
3) Enzymes affect women’s capacity to metabolize alcohol.
Alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase are two enzymes that break down alcohol in the liver and stomach. Women have lower levels of both. As a result, alcohol sticks around longer in women’s bloodstreams.
4) Hormonal changes play a role.
When women experience high estrogen levels due to menstruation, that causes intoxication to set in faster. In addition, for those taking medication with estrogen like birth control, intoxication can last longer. That’s because the medication slows the rate at which their bodies are able to get rid of the alcohol, stated MindBodyGreen.com.
5) They are at greater risk for liver damage.
Women develop alcohol-induced liver disease over shorter times, and even after consuming less alcohol, than men, wrote NIH. Plus, women are more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis and die from cirrhosis of the liver.
6) Brain damage is a risk for women who drink a lot of alcohol.
Women are thought to be more likely to suffer alcohol-induced brain damage based on images studied from MRIs. This can appear as reduced brain size or reduced mental function.
7) Breast cancer risks for women may increase due to alcohol consumption.
Alcohol may also raise a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. HelpGuide.org explained that for each additional 10 grams of alcohol (4 ounces of wine) a day, the risk of developing breast cancer increases over a lifetime by around 10 percent.
8) Excessive alcohol causes a higher risk of heart disease in women.
Women who drink four or more alcoholic beverages a day quadruple their risk of dying from heart disease, warned MindBodyGreen.com.
The risk of a fatal hemorrhagic stroke is high for all heavy drinkers. But with women, the odds are five times higher, according to recovering alcoholic and journalist Ann Dowsett Johnston in her book "Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women And Alcohol."
9) Alcohol adds even more risks to women’s health.
Yes, there’s more. Women who are heavy drinkers also have increased risks of osteoporosis, falls and hip fractures, premature menopause, infertility and miscarriages.
Reviewed April 22, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
"Are Women More Vulnerable to Alcohol's Effects?-Alcohol Alert No. 46-1999." Are Women More Vulnerable to Alcohol's Effects?-Alcohol Alert No. 46-1999. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
Dowsett Johnston, Ann. "7 Reasons Women Should Drink Less Alcohol." Mindbodygreen. N.p., 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
"Do Men And Women Process Alcohol Differently? - Alcoholism in Women." HealthStatus. N.p., 2009. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
"Women and Alcohol." Women & Alcohol: The Hidden Risks of Drinking. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016
DRINK Relationship Between Women and Alcohol By Ann Dowsett Johnston. Washington Post. Retrieved April 22, 2016.