If you’re a woman who loves your glass of wine after a long day at the office, or after a hard day with grumpy toddlers or after fighting with your teen about their embarrassing (for you) Facebook posts, you have plenty of company.
Perhaps wine isn’t your favorite alcoholic beverage, maybe you prefer to have a beer with your significant other as you kick your heels off and watch some TV. Or, maybe you’re the kind of gal who prefers whisky and rum over wine coolers.
Even if you can “handle your alcohol” like a man, unfortunately your body chemistry says otherwise. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), “Alcohol presents yet another health challenge for women.”
Unfortunately, even small amounts affects a woman differently than a man, says the NIH. Because of a woman’s body chemistry, heavy drinking is far more risky for a woman than it is for a man – that stinks!
How much alcohol is too much?
According to the NIH, 60 percent of women in the United States at least one drink a year. Among the women who do drink, 13 percent of them admit to having over 7 drinks each week.
For women, drinking more than 7 drinks each week is too much, and that number is above the recommended limits set forth by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recommends no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks per a day for men.
The Dietary Guidelines says that when women drink more than one drink per a day, it can increase their risk of being in a motor vehicle crash (DUI accident), but beyond that, it increases women’s risk of stroke, violence, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.
To learn more about the Dietary Guidelines, you can visit www.nutrition.gov.
What equals one drink?
In the United States, the standard drink contains 14 grams of alcohol, which can be found in any of the following alcoholic beverages:
- A 12 ounce beer with 5% alcohol content
- A 5 ounce glass of wine with 12% alcohol content
- 1.5 ounces of hard liquor with 40% alcohol content (e.g. whisky, rum, or brandy)
According to the NIH, the following women should not drink alcohol:
- Women under the age of 21
- Women of any age who have trouble drinking in moderation
- Women who are trying to become pregnant or who are pregnant
- Women who plan to drive or operate machinery
- Women who are taking medications that interact with alcohol
While drinking in moderation is acceptable for most women, they must be careful not to drink and drive. The NIH warns that it doesn’t take much alcohol to impair a woman’s ability to drive safely. The chances of being killed in a single-vehicle DUI accident increase when a 140 pound woman has just one alcoholic drink on an empty stomach, says the NIH.
Lastly, when women drink four or more alcoholic drinks on any given day, or when they drink eight or more drinks in a typical week, it increases their risk of alcohol dependence or abuse, the NIH reports.