Study On US Binge Drinking Among Women Draws Critics

 @Justine__Ashley
on January 09 2013 2:31 PM
  • Drinking Las Vegas 2
    Adults out on the town in Las Vegas. Reuters
  • Tribeca Light
    Tribeca Light sells cleverly packaged alcohol that targets “women celebrating a special occasion.” Tumblr
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A new study released by the U.S. Center For Disease Control And Prevention reveals that one in eight women engages in binge drinking, which is defined as drinking four or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting.

Some have criticized the study for unfairly focusing on women, who, according to the CDC, binge drink half as much as men. Furthermore, the findings show that many of the women who qualify as binge drinkers are drinking three nights a month -- a conclusion some feel is hardly cause for alarm.

“Another glass ceiling has been shattered by women, as ‘binge drinking’ is no longer just something most men do all the time,” Ken Layne said in a post published on The AWL.

“These wild drunkards are going crazy with the four drinks up to ... three times a month, according to the CDC,” Lane continued. “Well good gracious, that's almost having drinks on a single night of every weekend, as long as you don't drink at all on the fourth weekend.”

While the study may be flawed, it does present some important health information that women should be aware of.

According to CDC Director Thomas Frieden, binge drinking affects women differently than it affects men.

"Binge drinking is an underrecognized women's health issue," Frieden said. "Women tend to be smaller and, therefore, are more susceptible to the harms of alcohol at lower levels of drinking."

As the study states, excessive drinking can put women at a greater risk for breast cancer, stroke, hypertension and heart disease. Women who binge drink are also in danger of unintentional injuries and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.   

“Binge drinking poses a clear health risk for women given it can result in high blood alcohol content, reduced inhibitions, poor judgment, and risky behaviors,” Dr. Elizabeth Waterman of Morningside Recovery Centers in Newport Beach, Calif., said. “In addition, alcohol is a gateway substance that can lead women to try other substances. Multiple binging episodes within short periods of time can indicate an alcohol abuse problem and professional help is often appropriate in these situations.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as the consumption of four to five drinks within about a two-hour period.

It is most common in white and Latina women, high school students and those between the ages of 18 and 34. Furthermore, women with an annual household income upward of $75,000 are more likely to drink excessively.

So why are so many women hitting the bottle?  

Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, believes that the pressures of everyday life and clever marketing campaigns are partly to blame.

"The pressures facing both high school-age and adult women are significant these days, and, for many, drinking provides an outlet, a release, a mechanism for 'winding-down,’” Reynolds said. “For young women, the pressures are academic, social, and, in many cases, the pressure to drink is driven by their peers.”

“Those pressures, combined with aggressive marketing efforts that specifically target women with pink drinks and lower-calorie alcoholic beverages have fostered an increase in binge drinking among women,” he added.  

It’s true that though ads for alcoholic beverages have traditionally been geared toward men, women are being targeted more frequently.

Skinnygirl Cocktails sells low-calorie margaritas and cosmos developed expressly for women, while Tribeca Light sells cleverly packaged alcohol that targets “women celebrating a special occasion.” Skinny B*tch Vodka, made with vodka and diet soda, is another popular “female friendly” drink.  

According to the study, about 23,000 women and girls die from alcohol-related deaths each year. Of those deaths, 12,000 are the result of binge drinking.

Since earlier statistics published by the CDC indicate that 80,000 people die from excessive alcohol consumption annually, this means that about 57,000 of those killed are men.

Although it may be helpful for women to understand the effects that alcohol consumption can have on them, gender specific studies could detract from the overall issue, which is that alcohol abuse is a serious and deadly problem for both men and women.

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