Historically, men have consumed more alcohol than women. However, a new study suggests that women are catching up — and suffering the consequences.
The study, which was published in the journal BMJ Open, collected data from international research between 1980 to 2014. This included people born as far back as 1891 with a total sample size of four million people.
In particular the researchers used 11 key indicators that included alcohol-related problems, and those seeking treatment for alcohol issues.
What they found was that men born between 1891 and 1910 were 2.2 times more likely than women to consume alcohol. However, when it came to those born between 1991 and 2000, it had dropped to 1.1 times.
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When it came to “problematic use,” the gap between the sexes dropped from 3 times to 1.2 times in favour of men; the gap dropped from 3.6 times to 1.2 times for associated harms.
This type of trend is referred to as “sex convergence.” And the researchers reported that of the 42 studies that reported some evidence of this, about five per cent of the sex ratios were less than 1. This suggests that women born after 1981 may actually be consuming more alcohol than men.
The authors of the study hope that these findings may lead to new approaches when it comes to women and alcohol use.
“Alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon,” the authors concluded. “The present study calls this assumption into question and suggests that young women in particular should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms.”
According to the Chief Public Health Officer’s Reports on the State of Public Health in Canada, published in 2016, 4.4 million Canadians are at risk of chronic health effects such as varying forms of cancer and liver cirrhosis. Women who consume even one drink a day are at increased risk of breast cancer.