Binge drinking on the increase for women, the new CDC report shows

pictureThe U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report in January of 2013, stating that women’s binge drinking has been on the increase during the last few years, a fact that can potentially have destructive consequences for their health and lives.

According to the survey, binge drinking among women is ‘under- recognised’ and can constitute a much bigger problem than most people tend to think it is. The report defines binge drinking as ‘a dangerous drinking pattern that is defined as the consumption of 4 or more alcohol drinks for women (or 5 or more drinks for men) on an occasion.’

The findings show that about 1 in 8 adult women binge drink and that nearly 14 million U.S. women binge drink about three times a month. One in five high school girls drink excessively and the age between 18 and 34 seems to be the usual age at which women prefer to overindulge. According to the New York Magazine, college is the most suitable and welcoming ground for excessive drinking habits and usually women constitute the majority of those severely affected by binge drinking. Another recent study also confirmed that women in college are much more likely to binge drink than men.

Another shocking and surprising reveal  is that binge drinking is the cause of about 23,000 deaths among women and girls in the U.S. each year.

The CDC research indicates that binge drinking is a habit far more prevalent among white, highly educated women. However, a group that was particularly at risk were Latinas.

Another highlight of the CDC report suggests that women are much more vulnerable towards alcohol consumption, because their bodies and metabolism respond differently to alcohol than those of men. Women can become easily intoxicated after consuming less alcohol than men, because of the way their bodies process the quantities of alcohol entering their organism.  ‘Women’s bodies generally don’t have as many of the enzymes that digest alcohol’ said  Maureen Shackleford, a registered dietician at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Binge drinking among women can have alarming consequences regarding their health, social life and emotions, the report warns. Women who binge drink put their health seriously in danger, as they are in extreme risk for breast cancer, heart diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. In addition, pregnant women who binge drink might put the health of their unborn child in serious danger, as there is a risk of fetal-alcohol spectrum disorders and sudden-infant-death syndrome.

Binge drinking could also be associated with date rape and sexual violence, as excessive amounts of alcohol substances usually impair women’s control and clear vision over different situations, especially situations associated with unwanted sexual encounters.

Socially, binge drinking has become a whole new culture, a way for women to feel liberated by endorsing those habits that were traditionally conceived to be men’s drinking habits. Corporate culture in the western world also promotes binge drinking as a way of entertainment between colleagues and clients.

It certainly makes sense not to overlook the marketing and media influences and strategies, that deliberately  target female alcohol consumers, directly or indirectly, in order to always maximise profits. Kathryn A. Cunningham, the director of the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch stated: “The serious impact of binge drinking is truly interesting when placed in the context of the lack of prevention tools to prevent these behaviors and in the face of marketing of alcohol to female audiences.”

It is certain that the extent to which this habit can actually destroy women’s sense of control over their behaviour and their bodies is not yet recognised. Binge drinking is quite ignored and its danger and risky outcomes are not clearly articulated. It is crucial that women are informed and educated about the risks and serious impacts of binge drinking.

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