Alcohol dependence was once much more common among men than women in the U.S., but the gender gap is closing, Reuters reported May 5.
Researchers Richard A. Grucza of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleagues said that alcohol consumption and dependence have been rising among white and Hispanic women since the end of World War II, with women born between 1954 and 1963 much more apt to drink and have drinking problems than those born between 1944 and 1953.
"This is particularly disturbing because women with alcohol problems face more severe health-related consequences and possibly more years of life lost than their male counterparts," the study noted.
"We found that for women born after World War II, there are lower levels of abstaining from alcohol and higher levels of alcohol dependence, even when looking only at women who drank," Grucza said.
A changing cultural environment that saw more women going to college, entering the workforce, gaining purchasing power and defying gender stereotypes has played a role in alcohol-related trends among women, Grucza added. "They were freer to engage in a range of behaviors that were culturally or practically off-limits, and these behaviors probably would have included excessive drinking and alcohol problems," he said.
The research appears in the May 2008 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.