People born after World War II are more likely to binge drink and develop alcohol use disorders, a new study has found.
The review of 31 studies on birth-cohort and gender differences in drinking also revealed that women are "catching up" to men in terms of alcohol problems in many countries.
"The literature on alcohol consumption indicates that younger birth cohorts, especially women, are increasingly at risk for the development of AUDs," said Katherine M. Keyes, a post-doctoral fellow in epidemiology at Columbia University and corresponding author for the study.
Although the literature analysis found that younger birth cohorts in North America, especially those born after World War II, are more likely than other cohorts to engage in heavy episodic drinking and develop AUDs, this cohort effect was not found in Australia and Western Europe.
"The U.S. differs from Western Europe and Australia in that we have a fairly large number of people who don't drink at all," explained Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine.
"Europe and Australia, on the other hand, have historically had few 'teetotalers.' Over time, we see the number of non-drinkers in the U.S. decreasing, whereas alcohol use has always been more pervasive in some other Western cultures.
The findings will be published in the December 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.