Should a girl try to keep up with the guys while drinking at a party? Though some people think otherwise, women and men do process alcohol differently. Women become more intoxicated and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher after drinking the same amount of alcohol as men, even if they are the same weight.
There are several physiological reasons why a woman will feel the effects of alcohol more quickly and strongly than a man. Women are often smaller than men, and thus have a smaller volume of blood, so consuming the same amount of alcohol as a larger man will result in a higher BAC. However, even if a man and a woman are the same weight and drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman will still become more intoxicated. This is true for several reasons:
Some people understand that the liver can only process a certain amount of alcohol per hour, but mistakenly believe that the rate of alcohol metabolism is the same for everyone, regardless of gender. In fact, there is no substantial evidence to refute the claim that women get drunk faster than men.
When men and women drink alcohol at the same rate, regardless of their weight, women will achieve a higher BAC and become more impaired. This is because of physiological differences in body composition, metabolism, and hormones. So girls, don’t try to go beer-for-beer with the guys—they’ve got the biological advantage on this one!
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Alcohol alert: alcohol metabolism. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa35.htm . Published January 1997. Accessed November 7, 2008.
Alcohol alert: are women more vulnerable to alcohol's effects? National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa46.htm . Published December 1999. Accessed November 7, 2008.
Myths and facts about alcohol and other drugs. University of Michigan website. Available at: http://www.uhs.umich.edu/wellness/aod/mythandfacts.html#alcohol . Accessed August 3, 2006.
Sutker PB, Tabakoff B, Goist KC Jr, et al. Acute alcohol intoxication, mood states, and alcohol metabolism in women and men. Pharmacol Biochem Behav . 1983;18:349-354.
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