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How many women are affected?
- About 1.6 million alcoholics in the U.S.
- Women are the fastest growing segment of the
alcohol abusing population.
Which women have the highest risk of alcohol abuse and alcoholism?
- Women who have family histories of alcoholism.
- Women who are victims of violence as children or adults.
- Women whose partners are alcoholic.
- Women with binge/purge eating disorders (bulimia).
- Women who are depressed.
- Young women who are single or co-habitating.
- Middle aged women in transition (divorce, retirement, children leaving
- Older women with grief and loss issues.
How Alcohol Works on Your Body
- Alcohol depresses the brain and slows down the nervous system.
- Alcohol enters the blood stream from the stomach so its toxic effects
can be seen everywhere in the body.
- The rate at which alcohol gets into your system depends on:
- How much you drink.
- How fast you drink it.
- The concentration of the alcohol.
- Whether or not you have food in your stomach.
- Some drugs, such as valium or sleeping pills, increase alcohol effects.
- Women break down alcohol less efficiently than men do. Problems like
liver damage occur more quickly and with less alcohol than with men.
- Women reach higher blood alcohol concentrations than men who drink
the same amount because women have less body water.
Medical Problems Women Develop from Drinking
- High blood pressure-that can increase risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Enlarged or floppy heart.
- Hormone imbalance.
- Breast cancer.
- Stomach ulcers and intestinal bleeding.
- Liver disease such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis.
- Bone loss.
How much drinking is safe?
- No more than 1 drink per day for daily drinkers (U.S. Dept. of Health
& Human Services).
- No more than 2 drinks per day for occasional drinkers.
- One drink means 12 oz. beer, 5 oz. wine, or 1.5 oz. hard liquor.
By Sally Ragsdale, MSN
University of Washington Medical Center
Women's Health Care Center-Roosevelt