The consumption and abuse of alcohol is traditionally an issue associated with men not women. However, a recent study has shown that women are rapidly closing the gap and now drinking nearly as much as men.
Inevitably this puts women at the same risks as men for alcohol related illnesses, but perceived as a masculine pastime and problem, evidence suggests there is not enough being done to educate and inform females of the dangers alcohol.
The shift in gender ratios
The latest research by Slade and team indicates a steady increase in alcohol consumption, abuse and related risks in women that has resulted in the gap in gender drinking ratio almost disappearing entirely. The most prevalent age group affected by the dwindling gender gap being young women between 15 and 25 years old.
The study analysed data from over 4 million people collected between 1948 and 2014 and traced patterns in alcohol consumption in individuals born as far back as 1891 and as recently as 2001. A number of the studies used in the analysis published in the BMJ Open journal were conducted over 30 years and in some cases longer.
The risk factors
Although many may realise the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse, it still remains one of the main global health risk factors, along with high blood pressure, pollution and smoking. /span>
Back in 2010, figures published showed alcohol was responsible for 5% of global mortality and was the leading health risk in Andean South America, southern Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.
Social stigmas play a role
There are several suggestions that may have led to the shift in gender ratios, including historic social norms and stigmas that promote drinking as a masculine trait, not a feminine one. Interestingly, the report draws on a study that shows countries with almost equal gender roles have the smallest gender ratios between women and men drinkers.
Also, with typical gender-based roles in society, women can often be subjected to harsher judgment and social stigmatisation for drinking alcohol or having an alcohol related condition, which studies suggest could prevent many women from seeking treatment.
Making women more aware and creating inclusive information
The complete analysis urges health institutions and organisations to acknowledge the increasing trend of female alcohol usage and create more female-focused education and information to be more inclusive.
This research particularly highlights the risks facing younger women and hopes to stress the importance of addressing the issue to minimise the impact of alcohol abuse and other related health problems.