Alcohol: WOMEN VS. MEN
How often women tend to drink and what happens to their bodies when they do is
different when compared to men.
- Self-report surveys of men and women in the United States show that alcohol
use is more prevalent among men than women.
- Men are more likely than women to become alcohol dependent.
- Binge drinking (i.e., consumption of five or more drinks per occasion on 5 or
more days in the past month) is most common among women ages 18 to 25.
- Among racial groups, women’s drinking is more prevalent among whites,
although black women are more likely to drink heavily.
- Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently than men.
- Women generally have less body water than men of similar body weight, so that
women achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.
- Women DO appear to eliminate alcohol from the blood faster than men.
- This finding may be explained by women’s higher liver volume per unit lean
body mass, because alcohol is metabolized almost entirely in the liver.
Ability to Dilute Alcohol
- WOMEN: Average Total Body Water: 52%
MEN: Average Total Body Water: 61%
Ability to Metabolize Alcohol
- WOMEN: Have a smaller quantity of dehydrogenase, an enzyme that breaks down
MEN: Have a larger quantity of dehydrogenase, which allows them to break down
the alcohol they take in more quickly.
Hormonal Factors, Part 1
- WOMEN: Premenstrual hormonal changes cause intoxication to set in faster during
the days right before a woman gets her period.
MEN: Their susceptibility to getting drunk does not fluctuate dramatically at certain
times of the month.
Hormonal Factors, Part 2
- WOMEN: Alcohol increases estrogen levels. Birth control pills or other medicine with estrogen increase intoxication.
MEN: Alcohol also increases estrogen levels in men. Chronic alcoholism has been
associated with loss of body hair and muscle mass, development of swollen breasts
and shrunken testicles, and impotence.