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Alcohol: Why Women Get Drunk Faster

Contributed by on April 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

Men and Women are different – this is also true when drinking Alcohol: Often the woman can feel drunk after as few as two glasses of Wine, while the man on the other hand, may not even feel the effect of the drink. The fact that women get drunk faster than men is a widespread phenomenon, But why is that?

Many people believe that it is because women are smaller in size, but this is wrong.

Alcohol is distributed over a little liquid

Why women usually tolerate less alcohol than men has nothing to do with weight and body size. “The main reason is the ratio of water and fat in the body that is different for the sexes,” said Prof. Manfred Singer. Thus, the liquid content for men is about 70 percent, while woman’s is only 60 percent. But women have a higher fat content. “The fat takes up no alcohol, so it spreads to less liquid,” said the alcohol expert. The result:   Even when drinking the same amount of alcohol, women have a higher blood alcohol concentration, or more blood alcohol in the blood than men. This is the case even when both sexes weigh the same.

The water to fat ratio is also dependent on age. “For both men and women will reduce the water content, while increasing the percentage of fat,” says Singer. So, for instance a 40 year old can feel fine even after five beers, a 70 year old can be drunk even with the same amount of alcohol.

Activity of the liver in women is lower

The Liver is also to blame, that women get drunk faster: To reduce alcohol, the liver produces two enzymes – alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde aldehydrogenase (ALDH). ADH alcohol splits into hydrogen and acetaldehyde. The latter is highly toxic to the body, so the enzyme ALDH converts it into harmless substances such as acetic acid and water to break it down. In men, this process works fine in general. “In women however, with the lower liver activity it does not break down as fast” says the alcohol expert. This is because a women’s liver makes less of the enzymes used to metabolize the alcohol.

Women suffer more frequently from liver disease

Thus, the same reasons why women not only get drunk faster, it also makes them more susceptible to disease. Because of the higher blood alcohol level, women are at higher risk for liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis. Moreover, it also increases the likelihood of heart, and brain damage. The more sensitive metabolism also increases susceptibility to Breast cancer. These risks are particularly high in abused women, as they often turn to alcohol.

A pint of beer is too much

But at what amount of alcohol women at risk their health? According to a recommendation of the German Center for Addiction Issues (DHS) as little as twelve grams of alcohol per day may be too much. That is about half a pint of beer or a glass of wine. Men can damage their health if they take more than 24 grams of pure alcohol every day, which is equivalent to a pint of beer or a pint of wine. Even if you do not exceed the recommended daily amounts, there  should be at least two alcohol free days a week.

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