Research continues to add to the knowledge about the harmful effects of alcohol on women. A new study of data from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Nurses’ Health Study has found that postmenopausal women who consume even moderate amounts of alcohol may have increased risk of breast cancer. The researchers focused on breast cancer rates in women who reported drinking small amounts of alcohol (less than a glass of beer or wine a day). Although the women’s overall risk of breast cancer was low, they developed the disease at a higher rate than women who were non-drinkers. Information on the study is available at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-05/gmu-mau051205.php.
A study of rats at the Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that
women metabolize alcohol differently and may be more susceptible than
men to alcohol-related liver damage, especially if they also consume a
high-fat diet. The findings were presented recently at the annual
Digestive Disease Week 2005 meeting in Chicago. To learn more about the
study, see a HealthDay News article at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthology/story?id=770034.
Finally, a German study of alcoholic women and men published in the May Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (Vol. 29, pp. 896-901) found a number of gender-specific differences in alcohol dependence. Women alcoholics started drinking later than men and drank less, yet their alcohol-related brain atrophy was comparable to men’s as confirmed by computed tomography. According to the researchers, brain atrophy and other organ damage seem to develop faster in women, which may confirm a higher vulnerability to alcohol among women. For more information, see a BBC News article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4541281.stm.