Ladies looking to kick off happy hour next weekend may want to think twice.
A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals binge drinking is a major issue among women and young girls. Between the years 2001-2005 alone, more than half of the average 23,000 yearly deaths among women were due to excessive drinking.
Too much consumption was considered by health officials a major risk factor for alcohol-exposed pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, breast cancer and heart disease.
“Although binge drinking is even more of a problem among young men and boys, binge drinking is an important and unrecognized women’s health issue,” explained CDC director Dr. Thomas Friedman at a press conference.
Friedman also noted pregnant women who binge drink exposed their babies to high levels of alcohol, which could lead to other health problems, including sudden infant death syndrome.
The survey defines binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting for men and more than four for women.
While the report states more than 14 million women binge drink about three times a month and consume about six drinks per binge, they noticed a specific group at risk: Latinas.
“Binge drinking is a problem for all women and girls, but it is most common in high school girls and young women, whites and Hispanics, and among women with household incomes of $75,000 or more,” states the CDC.
Kathryn A. Cunningham, Director of the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch, agrees with the study.
“There is the added issue that the adolescent or young brain is still developing, often expressed as poor judgment, making bad decisions and the inability to accurately foresee the risks of their behavior,” explains Cunningham to Fox News Latino.
“The serious impact of binge drinking is truly interesting when placed in the context of the lack of prevention tools to prevent these behaviors and in the face of marketing of alcohol to female audiences,” said Cunningham. “It’s slated to elevate the attractiveness of drinking, such as Eva Longoria’s advertisements for Nuvo, a fruity high-alcohol beverage in a hot pink bottle.”
Heather Sutton, a Project Director for the Metropolitan Drug Commission in Knoxville, Tenn., also agrees that the popularity of fruity, “girly” cocktails, is one of the possible reasons why women, including Latinas, seem to be guzzling one too many.
“I believe the increase is related to societal changes, particularly when it comes to gender roles,” says Sutton. “Women are much more independent now than they ever have before. Some women are beginning to take on traditional male roles, which may make them more susceptible to risk-taking behaviors.”
Christopher J. McCann, a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California, has notice the trend among the clients he has worked with.
“Males still dominate the statistics for DUI arrests, but I have seen an ever increasing number of arrests and great numbers of clients being females,” says McCann. “These women are frequently employed or are students. They aren't drinking on a daily basis, but when they go out drinking, they will drink five or more drinks in a night.”
While there is no definitive answer in why young women, especially Latinas, are drinking more than ever, the CDC hopes their findings will lead to more awareness.
“It is alarming to see that binge drinking is so common among women and girls, and that women and girls are drinking so much when they do,” said Robert Brewer, M.D. of the Alcohol Program at CDC.
“The good news is that the same scientifically proven strategies for communities and clinical settings that we know can prevent binge drinking in the overall population can also work to prevent binge drinking among women and girls,” Brewer said.
You can reach Stephanie Nolasco via Twitter: @SNolasco