Changing social mores, opportunities for women make it not just a 'man's disease' anymore
TUESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking and alcohol dependence has increased substantially among women, particularly white and Hispanic women born since 1945, new study finds.
Alcohol use and dependency appeared to remain stable for men, while young Americans report having more lifetime alcohol problems than older Americans, despite having had less time to develop issues with drinking.
The findings were published in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
"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," the study's corresponding author, Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. "However, we didn't see any significant tendency for more recently born men to have lower levels of abstention or higher levels of alcohol dependence."
The researchers' findings came from analyzing two large, national surveys conducted 10 years apart (1991-1992 and 2001-2002). The polls compared lifetime alcohol-use rates from the same age groups and demographics.
The "closing gender-gap in alcoholism" may be due to higher levels of problems facing women, while men have been more or less steady in their levels of dependence, he said.
"Clearly, there were many changes in the cultural environment for women born in the '40s, '50s and '60s compared to women born earlier," Grucza said. "Women entered the work force, were more likely to go to college, were less hampered by gender stereotypes, and had more purchasing power. 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
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