We all need to moderate our drinking. Alcohol is associated with liver disease, certain cancers, a range of other health problems, violence, psycho-social issues, and more. But are there actually gender-specific differences in this area? The answer is yes there are…

  • Women are usually smaller and lighter than men, which means that any alcohol they consume will have a relatively greater effect.
  • Between 55% and 65% of the male body weight is made up of water. The female body, on the other hand, is made up of between 45% and 55% water – women have more fat than men, explaining this difference. The result is that women absorb alcohol more quickly than men do.
  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can affect the unborn child and lead to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which may involve serious features including brain damage.

 In essence then, women are not able to safely drink as much as men. This may seem “sexist” and perhaps it is, in a sense. But it is also a physiological reality rather than something “created” by society or by men, so we need to recognise and accept it. In general, whilst men are advised to limit their alcohol consumption to no more than 3 drinks per day or 21 drinks per week, women are advised to drink no more than 2 drinks per day or 14 drinks per week. For clarity and completeness, we note that a non-drinker should be advised to remain a non-drinker: the health “benefits” of moderate drinking are not sufficient to outweigh the risk of (any) drinking.