September's Wellness Topic: Women's Health
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Amy Lee, NP
Women's Health

Binge Drinking: A Women's Health Problem
by Amy Lee

I attended the University of Alabama and then went on to live in Pensacola, Florida; Honolulu, Hawaii; Ventura, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana. All of these places have an active "party scene." I've also lived in places that usually aren't considered quite so exciting — where I saw some of the heaviest drinking of alcohol. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that heavy alcohol intake is a serious problem for women across the nation.

Binge drinking and Women

For women, binge drinking is defined as having 4 or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion; for men, it's 5 or more drinks. It is estimated that drinking too much alcohol results in the death of 23,000 women each year in the U.S. One in 8 women over the age of 18 and 1 in 5 high school women are binge drinkers. Women that binge drink generally do so often: at least 3 times per month. And they usually have at least 6 drinks. Many women who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.

Health problems associated with binge drinking

Binge drinking carries with it a number of health and social problems:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Unintentional and intentional injuries
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Children with fetal alcohol syndrome
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders
  • Liver disease
  • Neurologic damage
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Poor diabetes control

Alcohol intake recommendations

It is recommended that underage women and pregnant women do not drink alcoholic beverages at all. Women with other health problems or a history of alcohol abuse should also avoid any alcohol intake. For other women who choose to have alcoholic beverages, the recommendation is up to one drink per day.

If you are drinking more alcoholic beverages than this recommended amount, speak to your health care provider to work on a plan to reach a healthier pattern of alcohol consumption.

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