Excessive alcohol use accounted for an estimated average of 23,000 deaths and 633,000 years of potential life lost (YPLL) among women and girls in the United States each year during 2001–2005. Binge drinking accounted for more than half of those deaths the January 8 report stated. Binge drinking, for the purpose of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is defined as four or more drinks in a row.
Binge drinking is a risk factor for many health and social problems among women and girls, including unintended and alcohol-exposed pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, breast cancer and the disease of alcoholism.
Among adult women, the prevalence of binge drinking was 12.5 percent, and among those who binge drank, the frequency of binge drinking was 3.2 episodes per month and the intensity was 5.7 drinks on occasion. Binge drinking was most prevalent among women aged 18–24 years (24.2 percent) and 25–34 years (19.9 percent).
Sixteen percent of the women binge drinkers came from homes with incomes in excess of $75,000.
Among those who binge drank, women aged 18–24 years had the highest frequency (3.6 episodes per month) and more to drink (6.4 drinks). Among high school girls, the prevalence of current alcohol use was 37.9 percent, the prevalence of binge drinking was just under 20 percent. More than half of high school girls who reported alcohol use were also binge drinkers.
The CDC says, “Underage girls are overexposed to alcohol marketing relative to women to an even greater extent than underage boys are overexposed to alcohol marketing relative to men , thereby increasing the risk that girls will initiate alcohol consumption and consume more alcohol when they drink. New alcoholic beverages (a.k.a. “alcopops") also have been developed and marketed to appeal to underage girls.”
Although binge drinking is more prevalent among men, women who binge drink are at high risk for alcohol use disorders, in part because they differ from men in their physiologic response to alcohol consumption. Women tend to reach higher blood alcohol levels than men at the same consumption level, even after taking into account differences in body size and food consumption.