Women Are Drinking as Much as Men

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More men than women use and abuse alcohol, but the gender gap is narrowing.

Researchers extracted data from 68 studies of alcohol consumption published worldwide from 1948 to 2014. They divided alcohol use into three broad categories: any alcohol use, problematic alcohol use, and alcohol-related harms. Then they arranged the data by age, dividing people into groups depending on when they were born.

The study, in BMJ Open, found that in all three categories, the difference between men and women is greater in older cohorts. For example, men born between 1911 and 1915 were 2.4 times as likely to use alcohol as women, 2.7 times as likely to abuse it, and 3.6 times as likely to suffer alcohol-related health problems.

By contrast, in the youngest group, born between 1991 and 2000, men were 1.1 times as likely as women to use, 1.2 times as likely to abuse, and 1.3 times as likely to suffer from alcohol’s ill effects.

The lead author, Tim Slade, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales, said that, based on other studies, the amounts of alcohol being consumed over all seem to be declining.

But, he added, “Women are now drinking as much as men, particularly in recent cohorts, and we need to be thinking about what will happen to their health as they get older.”