Alcoholism & Addiction

Gender Plays a Role in Alcohol Consequences

As much as feminists may hate to admit it, there are certain inherent inequalities between men and women that we cannot overcome. One of the inequalities that exist are the consequences for consuming alcohol.

A recent news piece highlights the differences, including the fact that women can become intoxicated much more quickly than men. While this may seem a consequence of a mere size difference, in reality it is actually something more.

According to Sharon Wilsnack, a professor of neuroscience at the University of the North Dakota School of Medicine who has conducted a 20-year research study on women and alcohol, there are two things at work. First, women don’t have as much of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase that processes alcohol in the stomach.

Second, women’s bodies contain less water than men’s due to size and the amount of fatty tissue. Therefore, men have more water in their bodies to dilute the alcohol that is in their system. As a result, even if a woman is exactly the same size as a man, she will get more drunk on the same amount of alcohol than he will.

“Women have lower body weight, less body water and less of the enzyme that breaks alcohol down,” Wilsnack said in the news piece. “So they have significantly higher alcohol concentrations in the blood, and that’s going to the brain, liver, heart and other organs.”

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, roughly 60 percent of American women drink and 13 percent of those exceed the one-a-day recommendation. About 5.3 million women drink according to habits that threaten their health, safety and general well-being.

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