A recent study conducted by a team at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has shown that differences between male and female alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms may be diminishing in the United States. 

After analyzing data from yearly national surveys conducted between 2002–2012, the study team found that differences in current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder, and living under the influence of alcohol in the past year, “all narrowed for females and males,” stated Aaron White, PhD. Men were found to still consume more alcohol but the differences between men and women are narrowing. Women are also at an increased risk for various alcohol-related complications such as liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, and cancer, noted researchers. 

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For females, the percent who drank alcohol in the previous 30 days increased from 44.9% to 48.3% whereas a decrease was seen for males from 57.4% to 56.1% between 2002–2012. The average number of drinking days in the past 30 days also increased for females from 6.8 days to 7.3 days where a small decrease was seen for males from 9.9 to 9.5 days. The analysis also showed a significant increase in binge drinking among females and a significant decrease among males aged 18–25 years, which further narrowed the gender gap. 

One measure for which the gender drinking difference actually increased during the study period was the prevalence of combining alcohol with marijuana during the last drinking occasion among 18–25 year olds. There was an increase among male drinkers from 15% to 19% whereas it remained around 10% among female drinkers. 

Dr. White added that more studies are required to identify the psychosocial and environmental factors for these changes and to determine their effect for prevention and treatment efforts.

For more information visit nih.gov