"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

More and more women are dying from alcohol-related causes

July 28, 2023 – Women within the United States are far more more likely to die from alcohol-related causes than men within the United States, in keeping with a brand new study. study who tracked these deaths for 20 years. The most dramatic increase occurred within the last three years covered by the study.

“From 2018 to 2020, there was a 14.7% increase per year” in alcohol-related deaths amongst women, said study researcher Ibraheem M. Karaye, MD, DrPH, assistant professor of population health and director of the health sciences program at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. While alcohol-related deaths amongst men also rose sharply over the identical three-year period, the rise was smaller than amongst women, at 12.5% ​​per 12 months.

Researchers have known for several years that the gender gap in alcohol consumption and complications is narrowing. Women drink more, engage in riskier drinking and usually tend to develop alcohol use disorders, Karaye said. “But we know very little about trends in alcohol-related deaths.”

Using a CDC database covering the years 1999 to 2020, Karaye and his colleagues analyzed files identifying underlying causes of death. During those years, greater than 605,000 alcohol-related deaths were identified. Overall, men were still nearly 3 times more more likely to die from alcohol-related problems than women. However, the speed of alcohol-related deaths amongst women has been steadily increasing, and in the previous couple of years studied, much more so than amongst men.

“We found that there are three different trending segments among women,” Karaye said. The rates slowly increased after which steadily picked up speed. For example:

  • 1999-2007: “We found that the alcohol-related death rate among women is increasing by 1% each year,” he said.
  • 2007-2018: “The rate increased by 4.3% annually. That was a big increase, but not as phenomenal as the most recent, most worrying one,” he said.
  • 2018 to 2020: The rate increased by 14.7% per 12 months for girls and 12.5% ​​per 12 months for men.

The results remained compelling, Karaye said, even when researchers excluded data from 2020, the primary 12 months of the pandemic.

Explanation of the rise

“Our study is descriptive; it tells us the 'what' but not the 'why,'” Karaye said. “However, we can speculate based on what is known and previous research.” Women drink more today than they used to and are inclined to develop more alcohol-related complications than men.

Women have lower levels of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which helps break down and metabolize alcohol. “We know that women have higher fat-to-water concentrations, which may also lead to higher alcohol concentrations,” Karaye said.

The study's findings indicate that more research is required to find out the explanations for the rise in female rates, Karaye said. Studies on using alcohol abuse medications must take women into consideration more fairly, he said.

Further insights on women, alcohol

Other recent studies have found that the proportion of suicides involving alcohol has increased amongst women of all ages, but not amongst men. Research In a study published in 2022, researchers analyzed greater than 115,000 suicide deaths between 2003 and 2018 and located that the proportion of deaths involving alcohol above the legal limit increased annually amongst women of all ages, but not amongst men.

A review Researchers on the Mayo Clinic have found that ladies usually tend to suffer from alcohol-related liver disease and develop more severe disease than men after they drink less alcohol. Among other things, the researchers also contribute to a rise in obesity, which might worsen the liver-damaging effects of alcohol.

Expert opinions

Overall, current research shows that “women are not only drinking more, but they may also be developing more problems later in life as a result of alcohol use,” said Mark S. Kaplan, DrPH, professor emeritus of human services on the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, who led the study and located that alcohol use is playing an increasingly large role in women who die by suicide.

“I think this new study is compelling,” he said. In future studies, “we should focus on some of the issues that may have to do with social circumstances.”

In particular, he said, research should examine the rise in alcohol-related deaths present in the brand new study amongst American Indian or Alaska Native women. While the general annual increase in 2018-2020 was 14.7%, the speed amongst American Indian or Alaska Native women was 22.8% per 12 months.

While the brand new study and others find that the gender gap in alcohol-related complications is narrowing, “unfortunately, alcohol abuse and alcohol-related deaths are increasing in both men and women,” says Camille A. Kezer, MD, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist on the Mayo Clinic who led the study on gender differences in alcohol-related liver disease.

However, she said: “We know that alcohol consumption is associated with risks that are specific to women for a number of reasons. These include differences in metabolism and the impact of hormones, as well as the increasing prevalence of obesity and bariatric surgery in women.”

Some studies have shown that bariatric surgery results in a rise in alcohol consumption and related disorders.

Kezer's advice to women: “Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day or less. If you are concerned about your drinking, you should seek help.”

Health care providers have an obligation to assist their patients discover and treat alcohol-related disorders, she said.