Addiction

21 September 2001

Mother’s little helper is not helping - women and alcohol

Alcoholism is increasing amongst women worldwide. The reasons for this are hotly debated, but it is thought that greater entry into the job market, with the stresses that it brings, greater financial independence and greater pressure on the homefront owing to lesser involvement from extended families are all contributing factors.

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Alcoholism is increasing amongst women worldwide. The reasons for this are hotly debated, but it is thought that greater entry into the job market, with the stresses that it brings, greater financial independence and greater pressure on the homefront owing to lesser involvement from extended families are all contributing factors.

The majority of women in the USA who are alcoholics are over the age of 35 and are often single or divorced. Anxiety, depression and loneliness appear to be contributing factors according to studies done in America.

Why alcohol affects women badly

  • Women are, on average, smaller than men, so equivalent doses of alcohol lead to greater concentration in their bodies
  • Women carry more fatty tissue than men. Body fat contains little water, so women have less water with which to dilute the alcohol.
  • Women have lesser amounts of the enzyme that metabolises alcohol, so more of the alcohol that women consume enters the bloodstream as pure alcohol
  • When women’s oestrogen levels are high, such as when they are premenstrual, the intoxicating effects of alcohol will set in faster
  • Chronic consumption of alcohol also increases the risk of breast cancer

How much is too much?

The secret lies in moderation rather than total abstinence, unless the latter is advised by your doctor. Depending on a woman’s size and state of health, no more than two units are recommended per day (one glass of wine, one beer or one tot of spirits). It is also not recommended that one abstains for a whole week and then take the whole week’s units in one sitting. If you are going to be driving, drinking is not recommended at all.

 

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