Women and Wine: How Alcohol Affects Female Health
Men and women are different—you probably knew that—and that’s true when it comes to wine and health. Alcohol impacts women differently than it does men, from first sip to metabolism to recovery. That means it’s important for women to understand how alcohol impacts their bodies.
Here, Wine Spectator explores the unique health benefits and risks for women drinking wine, including recent research and input from experts in the field.
Ladies, this one’s for you.
Women Process Alcohol Differently
Think you can go drink-for-drink with the man sitting next to you at the bar? Think again. There’s a reason why the U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines recommend up to two drinks a day for men and up to only one for women, and it’s not just because men are generally larger than women (though that helps).
In terms of body composition, women tend to have less body water than men, and because alcohol is highly water-soluble, that is one reason women have a higher blood-alcohol content (BAC) than men even after consuming the same amount.
When we consume alcohol, it’s broken down in the stomach by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). According to women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider, women do not have as much ADH activity as men do, so they’re unable to process as much alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. This also leads to a higher BAC than men, which means women generally grow more intoxicated more quickly.
Wider says that estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, suppresses the process that leads to ADH production. Once women hit menopause and estrogen production declines, this suppression appears to go away. So as a woman ages, the way she metabolizes alcohol becomes more similar to the way men do.
Read more at Wine Spectator