Female baby boomers are binge drinking more than ever before, a new study reveals.
Scientists say that heavy drinking among older American women is increasing at an alarming rate – much faster than it is among American men.
Research showed that over a 17-year study period, binge-drinking prevalence remained stable but increased at an average of nearly four percent per year among women.
The study, conducted by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, collected data on more than 65,000 men and women aged 60 and older who were current drinkers.Binge drinking is defined by consuming five or more drinks in one session for a man and four or more for a woman.Among them, more than 6,500 men and 1,700 women were binge drinkers.
‘We found that between 1997 and 2014, the proportion of older male drinkers in the US population increased about one percent per year, and female drinkers increased nearly two percent per year,’ study author and epidemiologist Dr Rosalind Breslow told HealthDay.
Although Dr Breslow says it’s unclear why there is a spike in the number of women drinking heavily, she added: ‘There is a great deal of speculation that baby boomers drank more when they were young and continue to drink more as a group.
‘There is some limited evidence to support this speculation. We did find that more younger boomers, ages 60 to 64, both men and women, were drinking than people of the same age in past generations.’
A binge-drinking map of the US, published last December, has highlighted the states where as much as a quarter of the adult population is thought to be drinking too much.
Binge drinking is defined by consuming five or more drinks in one session for a man and four or more for a woman.The research was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.North Dakota has the highest binge drinking problem, with 24.9 percent of residents in the state falling in to the category.
In Arkansas, the average binge drinker consumes eight in one go – the highest quantity of anywhere in the US.According to the Center’s research, there are 13 states where between 19 and 25 percent of the population are considered binge drinkers.
They are: Vermont, Ohio, Hawaii, Michigan, Alaska, Maine, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, Wisconsin and North Dakota, as well as the District of Columbia.
North Dakota has the highest population (24.9 percent) with Wisconsin and the District of Columbia (both 24.2 percent) as the joint-second worst affected.
Tennessee has the lowest population of binge drinkers in the country at 10.9 percent.
Dr Breslow explained that women don’t tolerate alcohol as well as men, and they start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men.
Alcohol dissolves in water and, on average, women weigh less than men and have less water in their bodies than men do.
‘So, after a man and woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman’s blood alcohol concentration will tend to be higher, putting her at greater risk for harm,’ Dr Breslow said.
Data from the US Census Bureau showed that there are 76.4 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.
As the US population ages, the number of men and women aged 60 and older who drink will likely increase further, bringing along more alcohol-related problems.
Alcohol can have devastating consequences on physical health.
Heavy drinkers have a greater risk of heart disease, liver disease, sleep disorders, stroke, depression and several types of cancer.They may also have problems managing diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.
‘We know that, overall, women are more sensitive to the negative health consequences of alcohol than men,’ Dr JC Garbutt, medical director of the University of North Carolina Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program, in Chapel Hill, told HealthDay.
‘These consequences include liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and cognitive impairment – serious problems – and addiction to alcohol is possible as well,’ he said.
An Australian study published last October also found the gap in drinking between men and women is closing.
Researchers found that women across the globe are as likely as men to engage in excessive drinking.
The rate of baby boomer women binge drinking is increasing at a rate of four percent every year, a new study has revealed (file image posed by model) b-error