Here’s Why Experts Say Drinking Alcohol Is Especially Hazardous for Women
Girls and boys are not created equally.
JAN 12, 2016 6:01PM EST
Women and men are not created equally — at least when it comes to drinking. But our friends across the pond just released their updated drinking guidelines, which came with a surprise twist and a departure from previous alcohol consumption recommendations in the U.K.: there’s no safe level of drinking, regardless of sex. The reasoning being that anyone consuming too much alcohol puts their short and long-term health at risk. Touché, however, the U.K. seems to be the only country who’s caught up with the idea of equality. Across most of Europe and the U.S., women are instructed to drink less than men as the effects of alcohol can be quicker and more damaging to their systems.
According to Broadly, this is because the link between cancer — especially breast cancer — and drinking is much higher for women. A report from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that “a woman’s brain and other organs are exposed to more alcohol and to more of the toxic byproducts that result when the body breaks down and eliminates alcohol.” In other words, women and men don’t metabolize alcohol in the same way, and this is why “safe” drinking in the U.S. for women is limited to one drink per day, and for men it’s two.
Drinking in excess is dangerous for everyone, however, and the new rules from the U.K. even point out that men are more likely to engage in risky behavior when drinking, and therefore are more likely to sustain injuries while drunk. They also point out that there’s no safe drinking level for anyone, and as anyone who has ever been drunk knows, everyone’s tolerance level is unique. Still, it’s generally accepted in the medical community that the risks of consuming too many drinks for women is greater than for men, and Broadly spoke to George F. Koob, PhD, who confirmed that these seemingly outdated guidelines exist because alcohol has been linked to higher instances of liver inflammation and cardiovascular disease, in addition to cancer for women.
Yes, this is another unfair advantage for men. But as doctors in the U.K. have found, if you’re over 21 (for U.S. residents) and going to drink, it’s probably best to pace yourself, whether you’re a girl or a boy.