Female Alcoholics Face Hidden Risks
Women like to drink for a variety of reasons - to celebrate, unwind with friends, on social occasions, to better enjoy certain foods, and many more. Many women do drink responsibly in these situations, but there is a fine line between this and risky drinking.
Recent studies have shown that more women are crossing that line and causing harm to themselves and others. Read on to learn more about how female alcoholics are uniquely vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol.
How Alcohol Affects A Woman’s Health
Women who abuse alcohol are susceptible to many of the same health conditions that men are, but there are additional factors to be aware of. Women are more vulnerable to:
Liver Disease: Women are at a higher risk of contracting liver diseases such as hepatitis. The risk of death from liver cirrhosis (a disease that destroys the liver’s ability to function) is also much higher.
Brain Damage: Alcohol induced brain damage can cause loss of mental functioning and brain shrinkage, and women who drink are much more likely to suffer from this type of damage.
Female alcoholics are also more likely to suffer from the following conditions:
- Falls and hip injuries
- Early onset of menopause
- Trouble conceiving and miscarriages
- High blood pressure and heart disease
There is also a definite link between high alcohol consumption and developing breast cancer. For example, consuming an extra 10 grams of alcohol, which is equal to just one glass of wine, each day will raise the risk of contracting breast cancer by 10%. On the contrary, a woman who never drinks only has a 9 in 100 risk of getting breast cancer. A woman who has an average of six drinks a day has a 13 in 100 risk.
Why Women Are Drinking More And What It’s Doing To Their Health
A recent survey has shown that about 47% of women in America are drinking regularly. The group that drinks the most are white women with steady jobs. This growing group of drinkers suggests that attitudes may have changed and many women feel more comfortable talking about their drinking habits. In the past, women were discouraged from drinking because of how it would reflect on their reputations and social standing.
This was especially true with younger women. Changes in our current culture are making that stigma a thing of the past. Levels of binge drinking in college age women has doubled in the last decade and more than half of college aged alcoholics are now women.
These statistics are disturbing not only because of the health risks involved with heavy drinking, but also because it increases the risk of unwanted sexual activity and its consequences.
How Women Process Alcohol Differently
The unique way that a woman’s body processes alcohol makes it even easier to cross the line between moderate and heavy drinking. These levels will also vary between each woman based on her specific physical characteristics, such as:
- Weight and general health
- Family history and genetic background
- How much time since her last meal
For a certain group of women, just having one drink a day is enough to put them at risk for health problems. A woman who is pregnant should never have a drink. These factors also contribute to the fact that women can become addicted to alcohol more easily than men. Women over the age of 59 are especially vulnerable to alcoholism and more than half of female alcoholics begin drinking at that age. Women need to take these factors into consideration in order to moderate their drinking to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. This is especially important as the middle aged years approach.