Health expert Susannah Hickling explores eight surprising facts about the relationship between women and alcohol
A woman gets more drunk than a man
If a man and a woman drink the same amount, she will almost always register a higher blood alcohol level than her male drinking buddy.
This is partly because women tend to be smaller and lighter, and so have a smaller volume of blood. But it also happens because they have a higher proportion of body fat than men and less body water. Alcohol is held in body water, so it’s more concentrated in females. This in turn means it’s more likely to have an adverse effect on a woman’s health than a man’s.
Booze increases your risk of breast and other cancers
According to the World Health Organisation, drinking alcohol is a major—but modifiable—risk factor for breast cancer, causing seven out of every hundred cases in Europe.
"Drinking alcohol is a major—but modifiable—risk factor for breast cancer"
Booze raises oestrogen levels, which can lead to faster cell division and possible tumours. On top of that, the hard stuff has also been linked to liver, bowel, mouth, oesophageal and laryngeal cancer.
Women are more likely to drink to cope
Studies have found women are more likely to turn to alcohol in times of stress
A number of studies have shown that women tend to use alcohol to deal with stress more than men. Alcohol use among older women has also been found to have increased more than it has for men.
Two large glasses of wine are the calorie equivalent of a burger
While you may avoid foods that could pile on the kilos, how often do you factor in alcoholic drinks? Not only does regular drinking lead to weight gain, but alcohol also reduces the amount of fat we burn as energy. This is because the body prioritises getting rid of the alcohol.
Alcohol makes you look older
Unfortunately, regular drinking can affect your looks. When you drink you don’t sleep as well, so you look more tired in the morning.
"Booze also dehydrates you and is thought to deprive your skin of nutrients"
Booze also dehydrates you and is thought to deprive your skin of nutrients. This can make your face puffy, wrinkled and your skin dull, or, alternatively, flushed.
It can aggravate menopause symptoms
Alcohol can exacerbate menopause symptoms
As if it isn’t enough that our changing hormones affect our sleep and our body temperature, alcohol can make insomnia, hot flushes and body sweats worse.
Drinking increases your risk of osteoporosis
Women’s bones tend to become less dense and more brittle as they get older. Consuming a lot of alcohol can exacerbate this.
There are effective ways to reduce your drinking
Have several alcohol-free days a week (but don’t binge on the other days). Buy an alcohol measuring cup to keep track of how many units you’re glugging at home. Find alternatives to alcohol to help you de-stress—exercise or have a hot bath. Go for a lower alcohol content whenever you can—drink a spritzer rather than a large glass of white wine or opt for a zero-alcohol beer.
Read more: Here's why you need to try low-alcohol wines
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