Female Binge Drinking Raises Concern
Binge drinking is typically associated with night-clubbers and college frat boys, but a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals heavy drinking is a growing problem for women and girls. The study shows that in 2011, one in eight adult women admitted to binge drinking on a regular basis, and one in five high school girls admitted to doing so. Binge drinking is defined as having more than four drinks in one session for women, and more than five drinks for men. Dr. Robert Brewer with the CDC's alcohol program division tells KTRH the report’s findings merit attention. "People tend to think that binge drinking is not such a big deal, but in fact it really can have both short and long-term health effects."
Those health effects can be even worse for females, according to Dr. Brewer. "It takes less alcohol to get them intoxicated," he says. "The way (females) break down alcohol in their body is different, and the result is they tend to get a higher blood alcohol level consuming the same amount of alcohol as boys and men." Some of the long-term health effects of binge drinking can include heart and liver disease, stroke, and cancer. But in the short term, the CDC says heavy drinking can lead to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. In underage girls, alcohol use can actually stunt brain development, according to Dr. Brewer. That's why he says underage or pregnant women should not drink at all.
The CDC recommends that both parents and the medical community take more of an active role in educating girls and young women about the destructive effects of binge drinking. "We would like to see all health professionals talk to their female patients about drinking," says Dr. Brewer. "Because it is such an important health risk, specifically when consumed to excess." While the binge drinking rate among boys is still slightly higher than girls, the CDC points out the male rate has declined in the past 10 years, while the female rate has remained nearly the same.
Read the CDC's complete “Vital Signs” study on binge drinking here.