Fact Sheet: Women and Alcohol
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- 77.6% of women age 12 and older reported ever using alcohol, while 60% reported past year use and 45.1% reported using alcohol in the past month.
- 82.5% of white women reported ever using alcohol, while 65% reported past year use and 49.7% reported using alcohol in the past month.
- 67.9% of black women reported ever using alcohol, while 45.1% reported past year use and 32.3% reported using alcohol in the past month.
- 60.8% of Hispanic women reported ever using alcohol, while 48.4% reported past year use and 33.6% reported using alcohol in the past month.
- Among current female drinkers in the USA, 7.16% of whites, 10.22% of blacks, 22.16% of American Indians/Alaska Native, and 9.03% of Hispanics reported alcohol dependence.
- Men and women reported different levels of alcohol involvement. 58.7% of men age 12 and older reported past month alcohol use compared to 45.1% of women, while 23.2% of men age 12 and older reported binge drinking in the past month compared to 8.6% of women.
- Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently than men.
- Alcohol consumption is associated with a linear increase in breast cancer incidence in women over the range of consumption reported by most women. A pooled analysis of several studies found breast cancer risk was significantly elevated by 9% for each 10-grams per day increase in alcohol intake for intakes up to 60 grams per day.
- Although the mean lifetime dose of alcohol in female alcoholics is only 60% of that in male alcoholics, one study noted that cardiomyopathy (a degenerative disease of the heart muscle) and myopathy (a degenerative disease of skeletal muscle) was as common in female alcoholics as in males. The study concluded that women are more susceptible than men to the toxic effects of alcohol on the heart muscle.
- Brain shrinkage in men and women was found to be similar despite significantly shorter periods of alcohol exposure or drinking histories in women.
- Women with chronic pancreatitis have shorter drinking histories than that of men. Women with alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis were found to have consumed less alcohol per body weight per day than men. These findings indicate that women are more vulnerable to alcoholic liver disease than men.
- Although alcohol problems are more common in male trauma patients, women with alcohol problems are just as severely impaired, have at least as many adverse consequences of alcohol use, and have more evidence of alcohol-related physical and psychological harm.
- One study showed that 40% of alcoholic women attempted to commit suicide, compared to 8.8% of non-alcoholic women.
Use During Pregnancy
- Younger women who are alcoholics are nearly twice as likely to attempt to commit suicide (50.5%) than older women who are alcoholics (25.5%).
- A study of suicides among females in New Mexico found that 65.5% of the decedents had alcohol or drugs present in their blood at the time of autopsy.
-Since 1990 the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have stated that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not drink alcohol.
- A national survey found that 58.8% of women age 15-44 drank while pregnant.
- 65.8% of pregnant women in their first trimester reported using alcohol, while 56.6% of women in their second trimester and 53.9% of women in their third trimester reported alcohol use.
- 57% of female victims of intimate violence (i.e., current or former spouses, boyfriends, etc.) reported that the offender had been drinking at the time of the offense.
- 62% of female victims of alcohol-related violence reported experiencing some form of injury.
- An estimated 4 in 10 women committing violence were perceived by the victim as being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the crime.
Drinking and Driving
- An estimated 25% of women on probation, 29% of women in local jails, 29% of women in state prisons, and 15% of women in federal prisons had been consuming alcohol at the time of the offense.
- Women are less likely than men to be involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes. However, from 1977 to 1997 the number of male drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal traffic crashes decreased 31%, while the number of females drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes has increased 12%.
-Moderation is defined as no more than one drink per day for women. One drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
"All material contained in this Alcohol Alert is in the public domain
and may be used or reproduced without the permission of NIAAA."
Compiled with information obtained from the
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA),
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