Pregnancy, breast cancer, and heart disease are women’s health issues frequently discussed among health experts. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added binge drinking as another health concern for women. Binge drinking could potentially damage a woman’s overall health, and could add risks to all of the women’s health issues mentioned above.While statistics have shown that binge drinking has actually decreased among high school boys, it has remained steady for high school girls; effecting young growing bodies that will be nourishing the next generation of children. Not only may the girls be harming the mind and bodies of their children, but may be harming their own quality of life and life expectancy.
CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden urges that this women’s health issue needs greater recognition. He stated that nearly 23,000 females die each year from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Some may disregard youthful binge drinking as a rite of passage, yet experts caution that an unrecognized or undeterred drinking habit may cause addiction, lifelong damage to the body, or death.
A Study of Female Binge Drinking
Each month nearly 14 million females binge drink three times or more. The CDC analyzed the drinking behavior of girls from the ages of high school through adulthood by using the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey and 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Their analysis revealed the following characteristics of females who are most likely to engage in binge drinking (having four or more drinks at one time):
- One in five high school girls engage in frequent binge-drinking
- One in eight young women engage in frequent binge-drinking
- Females from high school age through age 34
- White and Hispanic ethnicity
- Household income of $75,000 or more
Female Health Risks from Binge Drinking
The female body is given the gift of growing another human within her body and nourishing it until it is born into the world. Those who engage in binge drinking while that fetus is developing are passing the alcohol and its damaging effects on to their baby who are at risk of suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and sudden infant death syndrome.
Studies show that females who binge drink also increase their risk for the following long-term problems:
- Unplanned pregnancy
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
Awareness of the severity of female binge drinking may help not only the lives of millions of females, but the lives of millions of babies.
The Task of Changing Drinking Behavior
Experts agree that trying to change America’s drinking behavior is a difficult task. Binge drinking accounts for 90 percent of the alcohol consumption by young adults and 50 percent of the consumption of adults. The CDC recommends that doctors should inform women of the specific harm to their bodies they are risking by engaging in binge drinking. With knowledge, responsibility can prosper.