Finally, women have equality with men on at least one front that some of us have been diligently working towards for our entire adult lifespans. Men and women are both nailing alcohol consumption.
The BBC reports that a new study from the BMJ Open Report indicates that women have closed the bender gap. Conducted at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, in an analysis of 4 million people born between 1891 and 2001, it appears that men used to be far more likely to drink, and also to experience all the attendant health problems that arise from increased alcohol consumption.
This isn’t exactly new news! The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism released a similar study almost one year ago, and frankly, it hasn’t deterred me from drinking in the least. If anything, the gap appears to have closed even more. In the early 1900s, men were more than twice as likely as women to drink at all, but now they’re only 1.1 times as likely to pick up the bottle. While men were once 3 times as likely to drink to problematic levels, they’re now only a very narrow difference of 1.2 times as likely to ruin a party (and their body).
I am a supporter of equality, but the increased alcohol consumption has also brought health problems in par with what men have been experiencing. They were once 3.6 times as likely to develop issues like liver cirrhosis, but are now only 1.3 times as likely.
The study concludes, in part, that drinking has changed along with society. Women were once considered a steadying influence on alcoholic men, probably before advertisers realized how much money there is in promoting the now classic Girl’s Night Out:
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.
The increasing availability of alcohol also plays an important part, as does the way that alcohol marketing is often targeted specifically at women and particularly young women.
The study is skewed towards North America and Europe, and urges health professionals to educate both men and women about the dangers of drinking though, in over a hundred years, it doesn’t seem like anyone has learned.