Alcohol is a toxin that affects anyone who consumes it, but it definitely affects women even more than it does men. Because women and men metabolize at different rates it takes less alcohol for women to feel the effects of alcohol, but research also says that the long-term effects of alcohol use are also greater for women. Women are, generally speaking, physically smaller than men and therefore even if they consume less alcohol, they may demonstrate the same degree of impairment as the man who drinks considerably greater amounts. Furthermore, the female heart, brain and liver will be more negatively impacted by the same amount of alcohol compared to the man’s. This means that women who drink will develop alcohol-based health issues such as liver damage sooner than do men who drink alcohol. And, this can happen even if the woman is consuming less alcohol than a man. Besides damage to the liver, women who drink alcohol run several other serious health risks:
- Head, neck and brain cancers may be more likely for women who drink alcohol. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a study which showed that women who imbibe as few as three to six drinks per week can experience a 15 percent greater risk of such cancers.
- Alcohol kills everyone’s brain cells, but damage to the brain is more likely among women who drink than men.
- Alcohol can negatively impact a woman’s menstruation, fertility and ability to conceive. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy constitutes a serious health risk (birth defects, Fetal Alcohol Disorder, Abruption) to the unborn child.
- Drinking women are more likely to experience sexual assault or be the recipients of other forms of violence.
- Females drinking during teen years can impair growth, damage bone development and health and negatively impact puberty.
- Alcohol is known to factor into female depression, cause interrupted sleeping and even lead to heart problems for women.
- Women are two times more likely than men to die as a result of alcohol-related suicide, illness or injury.
Like men, women drink in order to unwind and relax, to ease inhibitions when mixing socially, to help them sleep (overuse of alcohol actually impairs restful sleeping), or to escape feelings of stress or potentially stressful situations. Female drinking, however, is most often driven by relationship issues. For example, women who are experiencing problems in a significant life relationship are more likely to drink, as are women who are single, separated or divorced. Women whose spouses are problem drinkers will themselves be more apt to over-drink. Lastly, women with a history of sexual abuse are more likely to drink than women with no such history. Women need to be aware of why they choose to drink and the dangers they face when they consume alcohol. This is especially true if they drink in anything more than the most casual way.