Recent studies on alcohol misuse show a significant increase
in heavy drinking among women. This trend raises several alarm bells because
women face a higher risk of certain alcohol-related health issues compared to
men. Drinking related health issues can occur earlier for women, and at lower
levels of consumption.
Immediate Effects of Alcohol on Women
For women, the effects of alcohol on the body differ from
men due to body chemistry. If a man and woman consume the same amount of
alcohol, women will have a higher blood alcohol level. Women absorb more
alcohol than men, speeding up and extending the effects of alcohol. According
to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
these differences also increase the probability of long-term health problems
among women who misuse alcohol.
Long-Term Health Risks
Heavy drinking is a common pattern of excessive alcohol use.
Although most women who drink are not alcoholics, alcoholism is a progressive
disease and heavy drinking could lead to alcohol dependence over time.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism identified the following
long-term health problems for women who drink heavily:
Women who drink heavily run a higher risk of liver inflammation than men. In addition, women who drink excessively develop alcoholic hepatitis at a faster and higher rate than men who drink heavily.
Extended heavy drinking is a prominent cause of heart disease. Women are more likely to suffer from heart disease caused by alcohol misuse than men, even with lower consumption rates. Specific risks include high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Brain damage caused by extended heavy drinking occurs faster in women. Women are also prone to blackouts and significant memory loss caused by heavy drinking. Heavy alcohol use can also lead to memory and learning problems, including dementia.
Women who drink everyday increase their chances of developing breast cancer, with a five to nine percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who abstain. The risk increases with each additional drink per day. Additional risks include cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon.
Mental Health Disorders
Regular consumption of alcohol changes the chemistry of the brain. Women who drink heavily are susceptible to developing disorders including substance use disorder, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders.
Though women who drink heavily may not be dependent on alcohol, the impact can still be significant, as women face particular long-term health risks related to excessive drinking.
Explore Valley Hope’s Beyond the Valley blog throughout
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The post Women and Alcohol: How Does Heavy Drinking Impact Women? appeared first on Valley Hope.
Source: Valley Hope