Health risks greater for binge drinking females -


Health risks greater for binge drinking females

Binge drinking is the term often associated with females who consume four or more drinks within a two-hour period.

What may surprise you is that excessive alcohol consumption leads to the death of about 23,000 women and girls in the US every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says this is a public health problem we should no longer ignore.

"The reality is binge drinking is associated with the three leading causes of death among youth," said Dr. Robert Brewer who is the Alcohol Program Leader in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control.

While heavy drinking is commonly considered a 'male behavior,' it is common among females and there are numerous examples on public display across YouTube.

For women, however, there are greater consequences to excessive alcohol consumption.

Due to our body chemistry, a woman absorbs more alcohol and it takes longer for their bodies to break it down.

According to a CDC report, women who excessively drink are at higher risk for developing liver and heart disease, mouth, throat and breast cancers, as well as decreased brain function.

"Throwing alcohol into the mix can really mess up the wiring, if you will," said Dr. Brewer.

In addition, women and girls who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex and multiple partners which increases their chances of unintended pregnancies, and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Based on the health consequences, Dr. Brewer says it's time for families to have a serious conversation about the dangers of binge drinking.

"Why take the risk? Why take the risk of having a car crash? Why take the risk of unprotected sex? Why take the risk of being sexually assaulted?" asked Dr. Brewer.

According to the research, drinking behavior for youth is strongly affected by the drinking habits of the adults closest to them, specifically, their older siblings and parents.

The example a family sets is something all adults can control.

"The message they get is maybe that's what they need to do to be more grown up or have a good time," Dr. Brewer said.

Even if you don't have a daughter, this issue still affects you.

It's a myth that binge drinking stops after college since nearly 70 percent of episodes are among people who are 26 and older.

Collectively, excessive drinking costs our country annually more than $220 billion.

According to the CDC, one evidence-based intervention for communities involves increasing the cost of alcoholic beverages.

Dr. Brewer cites cigarettes as an example where a higher price was used as a deterrent against consumption and the harms associated with its use.

"Binge drinking is just too dangerous," and Dr. Brewer added, "There are too many problems associated with it."

This is why the CDC's latest guidelines on the 'acceptable' amount of binge drinking for girls or for anyone, is none.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

Additional Information:

The following information is from a CDC FAQs page about heavy drinking (Source: 

  • A standard drink is equal to 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol or 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
  • According to the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans," moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Heavy drinking is defined as consuming an average of more than two drinks per day for men and more than one drink per day for women.
  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration level to 0.08% or more. This usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours.
  • Binge drinking typically results in acute intoxication which can impair brain function, dilate blood vessels to cause a feeling of warmth while rapidly loosing body heat, increase risk of cancer, stroke and liver diseases over time, damage a developing fetus and increase risk of motor vehicle crashes.
  • If you think you or someone you know has a drinking problem, the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service can help at 1-800-662-HELP.

The following information is from a CDC Fact Sheet about binge drinking (Source:

  • Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the U.S.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.
  • One in six adults binge drinks about four times per month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
  • Binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often then younger adults at an average of five to six times per month.
  • Binge drinking is more common amount higher household incomes ($75,000 and up).
  • About 92% of adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
  • While common among college students, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve those age 26 and older.
  • About 90% of alcohol consumed by youth under 21 years of age is in the form of binge drinks.
  • More than half of alcohol consumed by adults is in the form of binge drinks.
  • Binge drinking is associated with injuries (crashes, falls, burns, sexual assault, etc), alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, high blood pressure, liver disease, neurological damage, sexual dysfunction and poor control of diabetes.
  • Excessive drinking, including binge drinking, costs the U.S. $223.5 Billion (2006) or about $1.90 per drink from loss of productivity, health care, crime and other costs.
  • Binge drinking cost federal, state and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006.
  • Evidence-based interventions include:
    • Increasing alcoholic beverage costs and excise taxes.
    • Limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets that sell alcohol beverages in an area.
    • Holding retailers responsible for the harm caused by underage or intoxicated patrons.
    • Restricting alcohol sales to certain days and hours.
    • Government control on alcohol sales.
    • Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse. 

The following are the Community Guidelines from the CDC (Source: 

  • Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
  • Approximately 1 in 6 adults binge drinks about 4 times per month. On average, the largest number of drinks consumed during a binge is eight.
  • People aged 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. and more than 90% of that alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.

The following information is from a CDC Fact Sheet about alcohol and women's health (Source:

  • Gender differences in body structure and chemistry cause women to absorb more alcohol, and take longer to break it down and remove it from their bodies.
  • About one in two women of child-bearing age (18-44) use alcohol and 15% of women who drink in this group binge drink.
  • About 7.6% of pregnant women used alcohol.
  • Excessive drinking can disrupt menstruation and increase the risk of infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery.
  • Women who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex and multiple partners.
  • The risk of cirrhosis and alcohol-related liver diseases is higher for women than for men who drink.
  • Excessive drinking may cause memory loss and brain shrinkage. Research shows women are more vulnerable to brain damage from excessive alcohol use during shorter periods of excessive drinking.
  • Studies show women who drink excessively are at increased risk for heart damage.
  • Alcohol increases risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon and breast cancer in women. The risk of breast cancer increases as alcohol use increases.

The following is the CDC's Vital Signs report on female binge drinking (Source:

  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, results in about 23,000 deaths in women and girls each year.
  • Binge drinking increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, STDs, unintended pregnancy.
  • About 1 in 8 women aged 18 and older, and 1 in 5 high school girls binge drink.
  • Women who binge drink do so frequently (about 3 times per month) and have about 6 drinks per binge.
  • Most likely to binge drink are women aged 18-34 and high school girls, white and Hispanic, with household incomes of $75,000 or higher.
  • About 20% of high school girls binge drink, 24% ages 18-24, 20% ages 25-34, 15% ages 35-44, 10% ages 45-6 and 3% over 65.
  • About 45% of high school students in Grade 9 binge drink, about 50% in Grade 10, 58% in Grade 11 and 62% in Grade 12.
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