In our society, lots of men and women drink alcohol. Young males in their teens as well as young females in their teens imbibe on occasion too, though it’s illegal for minors (individuals under the age of 21) to consume alcoholic beverages. The truth of the matter is that alcohol affects the sexes differently – it affects females more than males.
The average woman faces unique health issues. She has to deal with diet, exercise, hormones, stress and for many, having children. “Alcohol presents yet another health challenge for women. Even in small amounts, alcohol affects women differently than men,” according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Heavy drinking for example, can be a lot riskier for a woman than it is for a man, says the NIAAA. The NIAAA reports that 60 percent of women in the United States have at least one alcoholic drink each year, and among the women who drink, 13 percent of them consume more than seven alcoholic drinks each week.
What counts as one drink in the U.S.?
- A 12-ounce beer with 5% alcohol content
- A 5-ounce glass of wine with 13% alcohol content
- 1.5 ounces of liquor with 40% alcohol content
Some females should not drink any alcohol, including women who are under the age of 21, women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, women who are on prescription or over-the-counter medications that interact with alcohol, and women who plan to drive or operate machinery, such as a lawn mower, power tools, a machine in a factory, or any other mechanical device that can cause serious injuries to the user.
Women: At a Greater Risk for Alcohol-Related Problems
Women are recommended to drink less than men. Why? Because, due to the makeup of their bodies, they are at a greater risk of developing alcohol-related problems. You see, when alcohol is consumed, it passes through the digestive tract and is then passed into the body’s water. The more water in the body, the more the alcohol is diluted. This is where the male vs. female equation comes in.
As a general rule, pound for pound, men weigh more than women. That’s a no-brainer. Since women have less water in their bodies than men, as a result, the following occurs to women when they consume alcohol:
- Their brain is exposed to more alcohol.
- Their other organs are exposed to more alcohol.
- Their organs are exposed to more toxins from the alcohol.
When women drink alcohol, they increase the risk of alcohol-related blackouts (lapses in memory while under the influence), exercising poor judgement, engaging in risky behavior, and drunk driving.
The problem is, “It doesn’t take much alcohol to impair a person’s ability to drive. The chances of being killed in a single-vehicle crash are increased at a blood alcohol level that a 140-lb. woman would reach after having one drink on an empty stomach,” says the NIAAA. Because women are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, they need to be extra careful about drinking and driving.