The gender gap is closing on one more thing, but it’s not exactly good news. More men than women use and abuse alcohol, but that’s quickly changing as more women have stepped up their drinking game, especially among the younger generation, a new study reports.
Researchers examined and culled data from 68 studies of alcohol consumption published from 1948 to 2014. The studies covered over 4 million people around the world, born from as far back as 1891 to as recent as 2000, Live Science reports.
They categorized alcohol use into three: any alcohol use, problematic alcohol use (like binge-drinking) and alcohol-related harms (like alcohol dependence). Then the researchers arranged the data by age, putting people into groups according to when they were born, the New York Times reports.
According to the researchers, they wanted to probe into the long-held assumption that alcohol use and abuse is strictly a masculine phenomenon. In fact, one study suggested that men were 12 times more likely to use and abuse alcohol compared to women. They observe,
Alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon.
The study found that in the three categories, the gap between men and women is larger in the older generation. Men born between 1911 and 1915 were 2.4 times as likely to use alcohol as women, 2.7 times as likely to abuse it, and 3.6 times as likely to experience alcohol-related health conditions.
In contrast, among those born between 1991 to 2000, men were 1.1 times as likely as women to use alcohol, 1.2 times as likely to abuse it, and 1.3 times as likely to suffer from the negative effects.
Tim Slade, the lead author and an associate professor at the University of New South Wales, says that on the bright side, the amount of alcohol being consumed in general seems to be going down. But he also points out, “Women are now drinking as much as men, particularly in recent cohorts, and we need to be thinking about what will happen to their health as they get older.”
The study was published in BMJ Open.