Binge Drinking: A Women’s Health Problem
I attended the University of Alabama and then managed to live in Pensacola, Fla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Ventura, Calif.; and New Orleans, La. What do all of these places have in common? They all boast a healthy “party scene.” But I’ve also lived in a lot less lively places as well, and some of the heaviest alcohol consumption I've ever witnessed took place along the Tombigbee River in rural Alabama.
In any case, over the years I’ve observed a fair amount of binge drinking and have also seen the costs of it. While men are often considered the biggest offenders when it comes to heavy alcohol intake, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that binge drinking is also a serious problem for women all across the nation.
Binge drinking and women
Experts estimate that 23,000 women die every year from drinking too much. Binge drinking in females is defined as when a woman consumes four or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion. (It’s five or more for a man). One in eight women over the age of 18, and one in five female high schoolers will binge drink—and women who binge drink generally do so often, at least three times per month. What’s more, women who binge drink usually have at least six drinks, even though, interestingly, many of the women who engage in binge drinking are not dependent on alcohol.
Health problems associated with binge drinking
Binge drinking can take a toll on the body, and it increases one’s chances of various health problems, including:
•driving under the influence
•both unintentional and intentional injuries
•sexually transmitted diseases
•giving birth to children with fetal alcohol syndrome
•high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders
•poor diabetes control
Alcohol intake recommendations
The experts recommend that underage women and pregnant women refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages of any kind. Women with health problems, or a history of alcohol abuse, should also avoid drinking alcohol. Also of note: Any alcohol intake has been shown to increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. For those women who do choose to have alcoholic beverages, the recommendation is up to one drink per day.