Saturday, February 26, 2011

Is alcohol less harmful to women than to men?

Alcohol's Effect to Both Genders

A question was raised, "I have heard that alcohol is less harmful to women than to men. Is this true?"
The answer is NO, this is not the case. When alcohol is taken in to the body, it is absorbed and carried to every organ in the body. Alcohol tends to dissolve in the body's water stores (in various cells). Women have less water relative to their body weight than men. If the female drinks the same quantity of alcohol as a male over the same time period, the female will have more alcohol in the bloodstream than the male. This will result in more rapid and severe intoxication in the female.

The main chemical enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the body is called alcohol dehydrogenase. Females process less alcohol through this mechanism than do males. This further increases the harmful effects of alcohol in women as compared to men.

Alcohol has also been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women, even when small quantities of alcohol are consumed daily (one-half to one and one-half glasses per day). The risk of breast cancer is further increased if one is taking oral contraception or hormone replacement therapy as well as regular alcohol.

Another significant problem is that pregnant women never drink alone. Alcohol present in the blood of the mother will eventually get to the baby developing in her womb. This can cause permanent damage to the child. It has not yet been determined what level of alcohol, if any, would be safe in pregnancy.

Again, prevention is better than cure. Alcohol should be avoided.

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