Binge drinking is taking a toll on American adults, especially women. Many are surprised to hear that a woman who has 3 to 4 drinks in one sitting is considered a binge drinker, while a woman who has 1 drink a day is a moderate drinker. This is due to the fact that women have on average a lower body mass than men, and experience the effects of alcohol much quicker. With today's hectic, high stress lifestyles it has also become easier than ever for a woman to begin binge drinking.

Binge drinking is normally associated with college aged adults and as part of a younger, more reckless phase of one's life. Unfortunately, many adults continue to binge drink even as they get older. Statistics show that almost 70% of binge drinkers in the U.S. are actually aged 26 and older.

Why are the guidelines for binge drinking so stringent? And why are they different for women? The effects of a binge drinking are destructive to both a person's mental and physical health. For women, these effects are more severe due in part to the different way that women's bodies process alcohol.

For example. A woman's stomach produces less of an enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol as it enters the digestive system. This causes the body to absorb more alcohol, eventually releasing more into the bloodstream and causing the liver to work harder to process it.

And because women typically weigh less than men, their bodies contain less water to dilute alcohol and effectively release it from the system. This means that alcohol stays in women's bodies for longer than it does in men's. If a man and a woman each consume the same amount of alcohol, it will affect them very differently.

Other risks associated with regular binge drinking include a higher risk of alcohol poisoning, engaging in risky behavior, experiencing long term health effects, and more severe hangovers. Studies show that women who are heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, having brain damage, and developing heart disease. Men are also at a risk for brain damage and heart problems, but at less severe rates than women.

How to know when your drinking has crossed the line, and what to do about it.

Even with all the risks associated with binge drinking, many women continue to regularly drink heavily and continue to function just fine in their lives, relationships, and careers. This makes the line between a regular drinking habit and binge drinkers quite difficult to define. So how does a woman know when her drinking habit has begun to put her health at a serious risk?

If you find yourself regularly consuming 4 drinks in one sitting, you may be on the path to becoming a binge drinker. If heavy consumption happens only occasionally, the health risks aren't as much of a concern, but if you find yourself having that fourth drink more often and almost every time you drink, you should start to become concerned.

After that fourth drink the risk for things such as getting into an accident, and blacking out go way up. It's important to be aware of how much you drink and of any negative circumstances that drinking has put you in.

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