Alcohol & Women
It is not being sexist to tell you that the simple fact is that alcohol affects women differently than men. Women can expect substantially more alcohol-caused impairment than men at equivalent levels of consumption.
Women are more sensitive to alcohol:
- Since, on the average, women are smaller than men, equivalent doses of alcohol produce higher levels of concentration in women's bodies.
- The average female carries more body fat than the average male, and body fat contains little water. Consequently, most women have less body water to dilute the alcohol, leaving a higher concentration of alcohol in women's bodies.
- Alcohol dehydrogenase is a metabolizing enzyme that helps the body get alcohol out of its system. Women have less of this enzyme than men, so more of what women drink enters the bloodstream as pure alcohol.
- Fluctuating hormone levels in women means that the intoxicating effects of alcohol will set in faster when their estrogen levels are higher, premenstrually. Also, alcohol increases the estrogen levels- birth control pills or other medications with estrogen will cause the intoxicating effects to set in at lower levels of BAC.
- Women absorb alcohol into the bloodstream faster and metabolize it slower than men.
- Women who drink regularly are at significantly greater risk for liver damage than men even if they drink less or drink for a shorter period of time.
- Women develop alcoholic liver disease after a comparatively shorter period of heavy drinking and at a lower level of daily drinking than men.28
- Proportionately more alcoholic women die from cirrhosis than do alcoholic men.27
- The odds of women experiencing sexual aggression were nine times higher on heavy days of alcohol consumption compared with days of no alcohol consumption.1
- There is a greater incidence of alcohol misuse in women with eating disorders, especially bulimia, than in the general population.2
- Girls who start dieting in sixth grade are more likely to engage in alcohol misuse later in life.2
- A growing body of literature shows that substance abuse among women and the issues surrounding their abuse differ from that among men.3