Binge Drinking, an Underestimated Health Problem in Women
Binge drinking is not only a social problem but is a serious health problem as well. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that bingeing on alcoholic drinks is a prevalent problem that is often underestimated especially among female adults and adolescents in the US.
The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion. Researchers found that using this definition, around 14 million US women consume an average of six drinks about three times a month. They also found that it appears that the prevalence of binge drinking may have been previously underestimated, since a 2011 report based on the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey defined the behavior as consuming five (instead of four) or more drinks per occasion.
Current research shows that women between 18 and 24 years of age binge the most, having 3.6 drinking episodes per month and 6.4 drinks per occasion. However, the difference in rates of binge drinking among women of other age ranges did not vary significantly.
Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, director of CDC, emphasizes that binge drinking is a serious problem that is associated with health issues including injury, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancy. Aside from these, women metabolize alcohol less efficiently than males, such that they attain higher alcohol blood levels for the same amount of drink consumed. Furthermore, excessive alcohol ingestion increases women’s risk for long-term effects like breast cancer and fetal alcohol disorder. However, the extent of the problem is often underestimated and unrecognized.
Frieden believes, however, that parents, health professionals and community members can play a role in counseling adolescents and women on the effects of alcohol drinking which could progress to binge drinking.
Harrison, P. Binge Drinking Prevalent, Yet Underestimated in Females. Medscape.