Women’s drinking habits are starting to catch up to men’s, according to a new study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). While men still drink more, a growing number of women are drinking, and drinking more frequently.
“We found that over that period of time, differences in measures such as current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder, and driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, all narrowed for females and males,” lead researcher Aaron White, PhD, said in a news release. “Males still consume more alcohol, but the differences between men and women are diminishing.”
The researchers said the reasons for women’s increased drinking rates are unclear.
The findings come from an analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which involves around 70,000 annually, Fox News reports. White and colleagues examined data from 2002 to 2012. The results are published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Women who said they drank alcohol in the past month rose from 44.9 percent in 2002 to 48.3 percent in 2012. Among men, the rate decreased from 57.4 percent to 56.1 percent. During the same period, the average number of drinking days in the past month also rose for females, from 6.8 to 7.3 days, but dropped slightly for males, from 9.9 to 9.5 days.
Among 18- to 25-year-olds in college, binge drinking rates did not change during the study period. Among young adults not enrolled in school, binge drinking increased among women and decreased in men.
NIAAA Director George F. Koob, PhD said increasing alcohol use by females is especially worrisome because women are at greater risk than men of a number of alcohol-related health problems, including liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cancer.