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Facts About Women & Alcohol

Did you know that while men tend to consume alcohol more than women, alcohol actually affects women’s bodies more than men? This probably comes as no surprise. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Women appear to be more vulnerable than men to many adverse consequences of alcohol use.”

“Women achieve a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood and become more impaired than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol,” according to the NIAAA. Not only that, but women are at a higher risk of alcohol-related organ damage and trauma stemming from drunk driving crashes.

According to data from the NIAAA:

  • 34% of women surveyed reported consuming at least 12 alcoholic drinks within the previous year compared to 56% of men.
  • 10% of the women surveyed consumed two drinks a day on average compared 22% of men.
  • Drinking is the most common for women between the ages of 26 and 34, and among women who are separated or divorced.
  • Women between the ages of 18 and 25 binge drink more than any other age range.

Why are Women More Sensitive to Alcohol?

Women’s bodies metabolize alcohol differently than their male counterparts. Interestingly, much of it comes down to the amount of water in women’s bodies, which is less than what’s contained in men’s bodies.

Suppose a woman weighs 140 pounds. Her body would contain less water than a 140-pound male. So, if a 140-pound woman and a 140-pound man both drank the same four beers in two hours, the woman’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) would achieve a higher BAC than the man.

The NIAAA had an interesting note about female alcohol use and traffic crashes. It said that while women are less likely than men to drink and drive, “women have a higher relative risk of driver fatality than men at a similar blood alcohol concentration.” How come?

Laboratory studies on women’s ability to respond to visual cues and other tasks while under the influence suggested gender differences in how alcohol affects women’s driving, according to the NIAAA. Many readers will find that interesting.

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