The use and effects of alcohol in men and women are not the same. Women have different alcohol consumption patterns and their bodies metabolize and react differently to alcohol. Essentially, women are at a higher risk than men of experiencing a health problem from drinking alcohol.
A man and a woman can drink the same amount of alcohol, for example one beer a day, but the woman has a greater risk of developing an alcohol-related problem. Generally this is because women weigh less than men and also because women have less water in their body for the alcohol to disperse through than men. Thus, one beer for a woman will give her a higher concentration of blood alcohol than that same one beer for the man. Ultimately, over time this puts the woman at a greater risk than the man for health issues. What are the special health concerns for women who drink?
Researchers have found that alcohol can increase a woman's chance of breast cancer. Women who consume one drink a day increase their chances by ten percent of developing breast cancer.
Chronic heavy drinking can lead to heart disease and is in fact one of the leading causes of heart disease. Even though women may drink the same as or even less than men, women are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
Inflammation of the liver from alcohol use (alcoholic hepatitis) can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and ultimately death. Women are also at a higher risk of developing liver disease than men, for the same reasons stated above.
It is now common knowledge that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects including but not limited to facial deformities and learning and behavioral problems. No safe level has been established. That means even drinking in moderation could lead to problems. If a woman is pregnant or trying to conceive, she should abstain from drinking alcohol.
What is drinking in moderation and approximately how much do women drink? The USDA states that drinking in moderation is no more than one drink per day for women. One drink is a 12 ounce beer, a 5 ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5 ounce shot of spirits. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 59 percent of women report having at least one drink in the last year compared to 71 percent of men, and 42 percent of women report having 12 or more drinks in the past year compared to 61 percent of men.
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