It’s counter-intuitive, but men and women of the same height and weight don’t experience the same effects after consuming the same amount of alcohol—women end up with a higher blood alcohol level and more quickly become impaired.

And a significant number of studies in the last twenty years show that unhealthy consequences of alcohol abuse develop faster in women than in men.

Alcohol is diluted in body water, giving men a greater capacity to dilute alcohol by virtue of their 61% bodily water concentration versus women’s 52%.

Men have a greater capacity to metabolize alcohol.  Compared to women, they have higher concentrations of dehydrogenase, the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol before it passes into the bloodstream.  So more alcohol enters a woman’s bloodstream.

Women have a higher concentration of body fat than do men, and body fat content is directly related to the rate of absorption and metabolizing alcohol.  Because fat does not absorb alcohol, the total alcohol content remains in a concentrated form in the woman’s bloodstream.  Consequently, women experience intoxication faster than do men.

Therefore, women are more likely to develop damage to their liver, heart muscle and brain at lower levels of alcohol intake.

Alcohol also increases risks of breast cancer.

Women are less likely to drive while drunk but are more likely to have a fatal crash at a given blood alcohol concentration than are men.

For older women, moderate drinking means less than one drink a day because older bodies don’t process alcohol well.

Source: University of CA, Berkeley Wellness Letter, August, 2012     healthstatus.com, March 17, 2009

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