National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Intergovernmental committee on Drugs working party on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Monograph

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An Update

June 2012

2.3 Gender differences and the impact of alcohol

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Women experience the effects of alcohol at lower levels than men because women have a higher blood alcohol content than men after consuming the same amount of alcohol (Frezza et al. 1990; McLeod et al. 1999; Mumenthaler et al. 1999; Stockwell and Single 1999). Holman et al. estimated that the absolute risk of death for women consuming between 2 and 2.9 standard drinks of alcohol per day is 1.13 when compared with abstainers, rising to 1.58 with the consumption of six or more drinks daily (Holman et al. 1996). For men the relative risk was 1.06 for between 4 and 4.9 drinks per day compared to abstainers and 1.37 for six or more per day. Alcohol is metabolized more slowly by women than by men and women who regularly consume more than two drinks per day or five or more drinks on one occasion have an increased risk of alcohol dependence (Frezza et al. 1990; Bradley et al. 1998; McLeod et al. 1999; Stockwell and Single 1999).

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