USA: Alcohol is a Rising Women’s Health Issue
In the United States alcohol is becoming a serious women’s health issue. The surge in alcohol problems among women is proving fatal to many.
Across the U.S., there is a rise in alcoholic cirrhosis and alcohol-related liver disease among young adults and women. This is leading to an increasing death rate in the country. One recent study published on JAMA network found, between 2000 to 2016, alcohol-induced deaths among women increased between 3.1% and 3.6% a year, this is about 3 times more than the death rate increase among men.
According to another study done by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), women’s alcohol-related death rate increased by 85% compared to a 35% increase among men, while the majority of alcohol-related deaths between 1999 – 2017 occurred among men.
According to Dr. George Koob, director of the NIAAA and Dr. Aaron White, senior scientific advisor for Dr. Koob, alcohol-related issues ranging from comorbid depression and anxiety disorders to liver disease tend to be more prevalent among women, and women develop disorders associated with alcohol faster and more severely.
It’s pretty clear that women are more vulnerable to the harms of alcohol than men, and now they are catching up in [alcohol use],” said Dr. Koob, as per U.S. News.
Alcohol has been linked to multiple health issues specific for women, including breast cancer, brain and heart damage, and risks during pregnancy both for the mother and the unborn child. While men still consume more alcohol than women on average, the gender gap in rates of binge alcohol use is closing fast.
The rise in women’s alcohol use, and binge alcohol use is happening alongside increases in depression and anxiety and suicide attempts among adolescents and young adults, specifically female.
Movendi International has previously reported on this concerning trend of increasing “deaths of despair” or deaths due to alcohol, other drugs and suicide among young adults in the United States.
One reason for the increase in women’s alcohol use is the normalization of alcohol among women, and the use of alcohol as a gender equalizer. Big Alcohol is exploiting the growing focus on the feminist movement to market alcohol to women as empowering, specifically to women of the Western world. This is especially harmful considering women are more severely and rapidly affected by alcohol harm.
Alcohol harm among women is a major blind spot in the global women’s health discourse and women’s rights movement. Urgent action is needed in focusing on prevention and control of alcohol to reduce the harm it specifically causes women.