High-risk Drinking: Differences in Men and Women
Women tend to indulge less when it comes to alcohol as
compared to men, according to a recent study. The study also considered some
factors that could be responsible for this difference in behavior.
Alcohol drinking was
once considered as a male-oriented behavior by many traditional societies. With
more and more women coming out of their homes for work as well as socializing,
the number of women consuming alcohol is on the rise.
Alcoholism is a major
problem in South Korea
resulting in increased costs of medical care as well as premature deaths. Alcohol
is a part of the social and professional life in South Korea; the prevalence of male
drinkers of 20 years or older increased from 74.8% in 1992to 76.3% in 2005 and
that of female drinkers has reached 40.8% in 2005 in the same age group.
A study evaluated the
gender differences in high-risk drinking in South Korea and analyzed some of
the probable reasons for the same. The authors used the term "high-risk
drinking" for excessive alcohol intake which may cause immediate problems
like accidental fall, fire, drowning, industrial accidents and violence, or
long-term problems like cancers, alcoholic psychosis and dependence,
cardiovascular diseases and inflammation of the stomach and pancreas. For the
purpose of this study, high-risk drinking was taken as drinking >60 g pure
alcohol per drinking day by men and >40 g by women.
drinking behavior was obtained from the Korea National Health and Nutrition
Examinations Surveys. In addition, some other information was collected that
included age, marital status, education level, occupational status, household
income, body mass index (BMI)and stress level of each individual.
The study revealed
. High-risk drinking was 5 times more common in men than in
women irrespective of which socioeconomic group the individual belonged
. High-risk drinking reduced with age, especially in women.
Drinking may be more common in the younger age group due to more social
activities of people in this group.
. Being married reduced high-risk drinking more in women than
in men. This reduction in women may be due to two reasons: One, women may be
discouraged from drinking post-marriage in the male-dominated society. Secondly,
women may be less likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles post-marriage.
Higher levels of education reduced high-risk drinking
especially in women. This could be because highly educated people were more
aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
. Working in a manual job increased the high-risk drinking
especially in women.
. Higher incomes lead to more high-risk drinking in men.
This may be because oftheir ability to pay more for the alcohol.
. Higher levels of stress were associated with high-risk
drinking especially in women. Alcohol is one of the ways employed by the people
to reduce stress, as was evident by the study.
. Thus, despite of limitations in the study, the study could
help to formulate policies against high-risk drinking separately in men and
women, by understanding the various factors responsible for this
1. Woojin Chung, Seung Ji Lim and Sun Mi Lee. Why is high-risk drinkingmore prevalent among men than women? Evidence from South Korea. BMC PublicHealth 2012, 12:101 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-101