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Women now consume nearly as much alcohol as men do, according to a new study.
The global study of 4 million people, born between 1891 and 2001, published in the online journal BMJ Open, showed that men used to be far more likely to drink and have resulting health problems.
Now, women are catching up, especially in more recent generations.
The study shows that men born in the early 1900s were more than twice as likely as women to drink alcohol at all, three times as likely to drink to problematic levels, and 3.6 times as likely to develop health problems from drinking.
However over the ensuing decades, the gap has closed so that men born since the 1980s are only 1.1 times more likely to drink than women and 1.2 times more likely to consume alcohol in a way that is considered problematic, and 1.3 times as likely to develop health problems from drinking.
Women are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol because of a number of factors, such as the fact it takes longer for their bodies to break down alcohol.
To keep health risks to a low level, both men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units a week.
Researchers of the study conclude: “Alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon. 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.”