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Differences in Health Effects of Alcohol Use Among Women and Men

Women and men are both susceptible to the immediate and long-term health effects of excessive alcohol use.

Group of women

However, women can be more vulnerable to negative health effects of alcohol use compared to men, even though men are more likely to drink alcohol and consume larger amounts of alcohol than women. Due to biological differe​nces in body structure and body chemi​stry, most women absorb more alcohol compared to men, and take longer to metabolize it. Even if drinking the same amount as men, women tend to have higher blood alcohol levels and immediate effects of alcohol occur quicker and last longer in women than men.

​Compared to men, women who use alcohol:

  • Have higher risk of cirrhosis and other alcohol-related liver diseases

  • Develop alcohol-related cognitive decline and shrinkage of the brain more quickly

  • Are at increased risk for damage to the heart at lower levels and fewer years of alcohol use

  • Are at increased risk for breast cancer with even low levels of alcohol use

Excessive drinking among men is associated with ​risks to men's health and safety. The risks increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. Excessive alcohol use can impact men's sexual and reproductive health by interfering with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in erectile dysfunction and infertility.

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