Statistics show that more men than women drink alcohol. But, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), death rates are 50 to 100 percent higher among female compared with male alcoholics.
Robert Anthenelli, MD, professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati (UC), says that alcohol affects women differently than it does men, and that there are several things women should know.
· Progression to alcoholism appears to be faster in women than in men.
· Women are more vulnerable than men to many of the medical consequences of alcohol use, such as damage to the heart, brain and liver.
· Alcohol use may adversely affect female reproductive health.
“Very few women know how quickly they can begin to have problems with alcohol, and just how harmful alcohol can be to their bodies,” says Anthenelli.
To determine if your drinking may be a problem, Anthenelli says there are several questions you should ask yourself:
· How many times in the past year have you had four or more drinks in a day?
“For a woman, having four or more drinks in a day represents hazardous drinking, which is associated with greater risk for alcohol-related problems,” Anthenelli says.
· Has a relative, friend or health care worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
· Have you had feelings of guilt or remorse about your drinking?
· Have you tried to cut down or control your drinking?
Anthenelli, who also holds an appointment at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, directs the Tristate Tobacco and Alcohol Research Center (TriTARC). His team is currently recruiting women recovering from alcoholism and those struggling with active alcohol problems for two NIAAA-funded studies. They hope to learn more about two other key facts women need to know:
· Compared with men, there may be differences in the way women respond to medications used to treat alcoholism.
· Alcohol-dependent women are more likely than alcohol-dependent men to suffer from stress-related depression or anxiety disorders prior to the onset of alcoholism.
To learn more about alcohol dependence or current clinical trials at UC, call TriTARC at (513) 558-7179 or toll-free at (877) 874-8272.