by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  February 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM Health In Focus
High-risk Drinking: Differences in Men and Women
Women tend to indulge less when it comes to alcohol as compared to men, according to a recent study. The study also considered some factors that could be responsible for this difference in behavior.

Alcohol drinking was once considered as a male-oriented behavior by many traditional societies. With more and more women coming out of their homes for work as well as socializing, the number of women consuming alcohol is on the rise.

Alcoholism is a major problem in South Korea resulting in increased costs of medical care as well as premature deaths. Alcohol is a part of the social and professional life in South Korea; the prevalence of male drinkers of 20 years or older increased from 74.8% in 1992 to 76.3% in 2005 and that of female drinkers has reached 40.8% in 2005 in the same age group.

A study evaluated the gender differences in high-risk drinking in South Korea and analyzed some of the probable reasons for the same. The authors used the term "high-risk drinking" for excessive alcohol intake which may cause immediate problems like accidental fall, fire, drowning, industrial accidents and violence, or long-term problems like cancers, alcoholic psychosis and dependence, cardiovascular diseases and inflammation of the stomach and pancreas. For the purpose of this study, high-risk drinking was taken as drinking >60 g pure alcohol per drinking day by men and >40 g by women.

Information regarding drinking behavior was obtained from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys. In addition, some other information was collected that included age, marital status, education level, occupational status, household income, body mass index (BMI) and stress level of each individual.

The study revealed the following:

High-risk drinking was 5 times more common in men than in women irrespective of which socioeconomic group the individual belonged to.

High-risk drinking reduced with age, especially in women. Drinking may be more common in the younger age group due to more social activities of people in this group.

Being married reduced high-risk drinking more in women than in men. This reduction in women may be due to two reasons: One, women may be discouraged from drinking post-marriage in the male-dominated society. Secondly, women may be less likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles post-marriage.

Higher levels of education reduced high-risk drinking especially in women. This could be because highly educated people were more aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Working in a manual job increased the high-risk drinking especially in women.

Higher incomes lead to more high-risk drinking in men. This may be because of their ability to pay more for the alcohol.

Higher levels of stress were associated with high-risk drinking especially in women. Alcohol is one of the ways employed by the people to reduce stress, as was evident by the study.

Thus, despite of limitations in the study, the study could help to formulate policies against high-risk drinking separately in men and women, by understanding the various factors responsible for this situation.

Reference :

1. Woojin Chung, Seung Ji Lim and Sun Mi Lee. Why is high-risk drinking more prevalent among men than women? Evidence from South Korea. BMC Public Health 2012, 12:101 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-101

Source: Medindia

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