Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

College Women More Prone to Problem Drinking Than Men: Study

Alcohol affects them differently, so safe limits are lower for women

  • Print

FRIDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- It comes as little surprise that college students sometimes binge drink, but new research shows that college women are more likely to drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol on a weekly basis than are college men.

Much of this difference is probably because the amount of alcohol that's considered safe on a weekly basis is much lower for women than it is for men: seven drinks for women versus 14 for men. But, there's good reason for that difference. Women don't metabolize alcohol in the same way as men, and lesser amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer and liver disease in women.

Throughout the study, 15 percent of women exceeded weekly drinking limits compared to 12 percent of men. In addition, men's weekly drinking appeared to go down throughout the year, but not so for women.

"College women adopt a drinking style that will cause toxicity soon. Overall, women drink less than men do, but they don't seem to know how much less they should be drinking in a week," explained Bettina Hoeppner, lead study author and an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.

Hoeppner said the biggest concern is that women may be setting themselves up for long-term health problems, particularly if they're not aware of the safe weekly alcohol limits. She noted that women might think they're fine if they don't binge drink, but it's easy to hit the weekly limit by just having a glass of wine with dinner every night.

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines low-risk drinking as no more than three drinks a day or seven drinks a week for women. For men, those limits are four drinks a day and 14 drinks a week.

The daily limits were set to avoid the physical and thinking problems that can occur from drinking too much in one day. The weekly limits took into account how much alcohol someone would need to consume to raise their risk of chronic health conditions, such as liver disease, sleep disorders, heart disease and some cancers.

Hoeppner's study included 992 college students: 575 females and 417 males. The students provided biweekly reports of their daily drinking habits through a Web-based questionnaire.

Two-thirds of both the men and women exceeded the NIAAA weekly or daily guidelines at least once during the year, according to the study. Slightly more than 51 percent of the women and about 45 percent of the men exceeded weekly drinking limits at least once during the year.

Men were slightly more likely to exceed daily limits than women: 28 percent of men versus 25 percent of women, but the researchers said this difference wasn't statistically significant.

The study findings appear online May 17 and in the upcoming October print issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and drug abuse at the NYU Langone Medical Center, said he suspects that college women may be trying to drink as much as their male counterparts. "I think these young women are independent souls and are motivated to drink in a manner that's similar to the way that men are drinking," he said. "In terms of what's considered normative, there isn't much difference between men and women now."

But, he cautioned, "Comparable levels of drinking for women have a greater impact in terms of intoxication."

Study author Hoeppner said she didn't think that women were necessarily trying to drink as much as men, just that they might not be as aware of what's considered a safe weekly limit.

"Women need to be reminded that there are weekly limits, and women can exceed those limits quickly. It's important to track the number of drinks you have per week, not just on occasion. And, alcohol prevention information should address the rationale behind weekly limits," Hoeppner suggested.

More information

Learn more about drinking in college from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hangs out on a birch tree in St. Vital. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is considered a keystone species. Other species take advantage of the holes that the birds make in trees. A group of sapsuckers are collectively known as a

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google