December 18, 2014

Binge drinking under recognized among women, girls

Nearly 14 million women binge drink about three times a month and consume an average of six drinks per binge, according to a report released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dangerous behavior is not often recognized as a woman’s health problem.

“The way women drink tends to be different from the way men drink; the consequences they experience tend to be different.”

Dr. Randall Brown is an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and heads the Center for Addictive Disorders. He says there are health consequences to binge drinking specific to women. “One of the things we think about a lot is unintended sex or being a victim of an assault, which we know is the case with binge drinking. Another critical issue for women is breast cancer.”

About one in eight women and one in five high school girls report binge drinking. There are also the non-gender specific tragic health problems, including liver cancer, heart disease, and injuries or death as a result of driving drunk.

Brown says about half the risk for developing alcohol dependence is genetic and the other half is environmental.

Brown recommends parents talk to their child about the dangers of alcohol at an early age — before age 15 — and living by example.

Drinking too much causes about 23,000 deaths among women and girls in the United States each year.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:42

Related sites:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcholism
The Cool Spot
CDC Alcohol and Public Health