Marla Ahlgrimm Outlines Risks of Alcohol in Women

Marla AhlgrimmWhile an occasional drink probably isn’t going to cause any long-term damage, excessive alcohol intake is especially dangerous for women. This, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, a leading expert on women’s health. In the following conversation, Ahlgrimm summarizes the risks of chronic alcohol use for women.

Q: How common is alcoholism in women?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The CDC estimates that approximately 2.5% of women are alcohol dependent. However, around 12% report binge drinking at least three times per month and almost half of all women surveyed noted having consumed alcohol in the last month.

Q: Does alcohol have any effect on fertility?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, and to a potentially devastating degree. Regularly consuming alcohol, whether wine, beer, or liquor, may increase a woman’s chances of infertility. Furthermore, research has shown that reproductive age binge drinkers are more likely to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners, which may lead to venereal diseases that may also contribute to infertility.

Q: What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a developmental disorder specific to infants born of alcohol abusing mothers. Newborns affected may be born with poor motor skills, facial abnormalities, and small head circumference. FAS is incurable and often presents later in life with behavioral problems, poor social skills, and learning difficulties.

Q: Aside from reproductive issues, what other side-effects may result from alcohol usage?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Since women metabolize alcohol faster than men, they may be more at-risk for cirrhosis, heart damage, and mouth, esophageal, throat, breast, and liver cancer. Research suggests that brain damage can occur within a relatively short period for women. College-aged women are more at-risk of rape and sexual assault when they participate in binge drinking events such as parties and holiday festivities.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to note?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently than men. Women generally have less body water than men of similar body weight, so that women achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol. Women DO appear to eliminate alcohol from the blood faster than men.

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