A new U.S. government report concluded women are catching up to men with the use and the abuse of alcohol.
Researchers examined data ranging from 2002 to 2012. Reported alcohol consumption in the 30 days prior to the survey rose from 45 percent to more than 48 percent among women but fell from 57 percent to 56 percent among men.
They found that all the categories began narrowing between men and women over time. These categories included the number of days they consume alcohol a month and driving under the influence. Men still drink more alcohol; however, the differences between men and women are less than they used to be.
The average number of days women consumed alcohol each month rose from 6.8 to 7.3. For men, that measure fell from 9.9 days to 9.5 days each month.
Not entirely surprising, binge drinking rates among college students age 18 to 25 remained unchanged. But women in the same age group who were not in college increased binge drinking. There was a significant drop in binge drinking among men in this age group not in college.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than five drinks on any one occasion for men and more than four drinks on any one occasion for women.
The difference increased rather than decreased in only one area during the study. The prevalence of combining marijuana use with alcohol consumption among 18-25 years old men went from 15 to 19 percent. The same measure for women remained at 10 percent.
The reason for the increase in alcohol consumption among women isn’t clear from the study, and the narrowing gap between women and men is also unclear. They do not seem to be influenced by pregnancy, marital status, or employment. The researchers called for additional studies to pinpoint the trend and its causes so they could craft or improve alcohol abuse prevention and treatment efforts.
Women face greater risk of health problems related to alcohol consumption than men. These include heart disease, liver inflammation, neurotoxicity, and cancer.