Binge drinking among women has almost doubled according to research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, from 8% of women in 1998 to 15% in 2006. Over the same period binge drinking among men increased only slightly, from 22% to 23%. Binge drinking is defined as consuming twice the government's safe limit of alcohol at least one day a week. And as that's only two to three units for a woman, and three to four for a man, that's not that hard to do.
It's thought that women's drinking has increased because we tend to prefer wine to beer, while the influence of advertising and women's increased financial independence are also seen as contributing factors. The average consumption of women aged 16 to 24 is now 10.8 units a week, up from 7.3 in 1992, while women over 65 drink almost twice as much as they used to over the same period - 5.1 units a week compared to 2.7. Apparently young adults of both sexes are drinking less, with young men's binge drinking falling from 39% in 1998 to 30% in 2006.
Women need to be aware of the ways in which alcohol affects female bodies, according to health campaigners. Chris Sorek, chief executive of Drinkaware, says, 'Even in small amounts, alcohol affects women differently to men - studies suggest women are more prone to liver disease after a comparatively shorter period of heavy drinking. Alcohol can also affect women's chances of conceiving a child and can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer.' We have been warned. Having celebrated some female firsts yesterday, this is a timely reminder to put the brakes on other aspects of women's experience.