Women who are addicted to alcohol are twice at risk of dying early as men with alcohol dependence.
The finding has prompted GPs to call for screening of female patients for excessive alcohol consumption.
Researchers followed 149 heavy drinkers for 14 years and found that women alcoholics were nearly five times as likely to die early as their non-addicted peers.
But alcohol-dependent men were only twice as likely to die early as members of the general population.
The alcohol-addicted men and women were about 20 years younger on average than the normal life expectancy at the time of their death, the researcher found.
"Our findings suggest that women with alcohol dependence should be considered at higher risk of premature death than alcohol-dependent men," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the researchers of the study as saying.
Lead researcher Ulrich John told The Sun-Herald that in light of these results GPs should screen their female patients, asking questions about excess alcohol and tobacco consumption.
The director of Australia's National Drug Research Institute, Steve Allsop, said differences in biological make-up made alcohol more dangerous for women than men. He said men are generally bigger than women with more body water and less body fat, meaning the same amount of alcohol results in a higher blood alcohol level for women.
"Women are more at risk of intoxication than men; in the longer term they become more dependent quicker and they experience more physical harm in a shorter period of time than men," Professor Allsop said.
The German findings tallied with the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, he said.
According to the NHMRC, the risks from drinking more than the recommended two standard drinks a day increase at a faster rate for women. Women who consume 10 standard drinks a day have a 10 per cent risk of death from alcohol-related causes, while men who consume the same amount have a 6 per cent risk of death.
Alcoholism can lead to cardiovascular disease, brain damage, and kidney and liver disease.
The study results will be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research early next year.