At least one in five men in developed countries are at lifetime risk of becoming dependent on or abusing alcohol, according to a review of recent research, Reuters reported Jan. 25.
Marc Schuckit of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California found that men in developed countries have a 15 percent lifetime risk for abusing alcohol, and a 10 percent risk for becoming dependent on alcohol (the combined lifetime risk for either alcohol abuse or dependence is over 20 percent). In contrast, the lifetime risk for women to become dependent on alcohol was eight to ten percent.
“Once you carry one of these diagnoses regularly, you tend to cut your life short by 10 to 15 years,” Schuckit said.
The researcher said that 40 to 60 percent of the risk associated with drinking problems is due to genetics, while the rest can be explained by environmental factors. “More women than men are lifelong abstainers. A higher proportion of women than men never open themselves to the possibility of alcoholism because they never or very rarely drink,” Schuckit said.
Various treatment options are effective for those with alcohol use disorders, Schuckit said. Over half of women and men with alcohol dependence stop drinking or decrease their use of alcohol after a year of treatment.
The article was published in the Jan. 26, 2009 issue of Lancet.