Women are getting close to drinking the same amount of alcohol as men in the United States, according to a new study.
Writing in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, say women appear to be closing the gap on men.
“We found that over that period of time, differences in measures such as current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder, and driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, all narrowed for females and males,” said Aaron White, the NIAAA’s senior scientific adviser. “Males still consume more alcohol, but the differences between men and women are diminishing.”
For the study, White looked at data from yearly national surveys conducted between 2002 and 2012.
He found that the percentage of people who had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days had increased for women from 44.9 percent to 48.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the figures for men declined from 57.4 percent to 56.1 percent.
The number of "drinking days" for women was up from 6.8 per month to 7.3 per month. The number for men declined from 9.9 days to 9.5 days, according to the study.
NIAAA Director George F. Koob said the findings are concerning, adding that women are at greater risk than men of a variety of alcohol-related health effects, including liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and cancer.
The study showed a significant increase in binge drinking by 18- to 25-year-old women not in college, but a significant decrease among males. For those in college, there was no increase in binge drinking for men or women.
Researchers said they still can’t identify the reasons women are narrowing the gap, but that “employment, pregnancy, or marital status” do not seem to be factors.