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Binge drinking among females goes unrecognized, medical officials say

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Binge drinking, the practice of quickly downing alcoholic beverages with the intention of getting drunk is usually associated with young men in college fraternities. Binge drinking has been found to be prevalent among girls and women - and is going largely unrecognized, according to medical officials.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in eight women and one in five high school girls binge drink. The CDC's Vital Signs report says that binge drinking for women is defined as consuming four or more alcohol drinks, such as beer, liquor or wine, on an occasion.

Binge drinking was found to be most common among women ages 18-34 and high school girls. Surprisingly, it was also most prevalent among women living in households with annual incomes of $75,000 or higher.

There is special concern for these statistics as women and girls metabolize, or process, alcohol differently than men and boys.

Binge drinking puts women at a higher risk for breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease and unintended pregnancy. In addition, the CDC found that binge drinking during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and sudden infant death syndrome.

"We've watched a shift from girls drinking beer to distilled spirits," David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore says. "They are experimenting with the strongest form of the drug available."

The Distilled Spirits Council says the industry works to reduce binge drinking through programs such as The Century Council's "Girl Talk."

"For women of legal drinking age, we continue to encourage them to follow the advice of the federal government's dietary guidelines," according to a statement.

Moderate alcohol consumption is defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.

"Effective community measures can support women and girls in making wise choices about whether to drink or how much to drink if they do," CDC Director Thomas Frieden says. "Each of us can choose not to binge drink."

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