Complications From Alcohol Use Are Rising Among Women

Health Information Lifestyle

A new study adds to a mounting body of evidence showing that rising alcohol consumption among women is leading to higher rates of death and disease. The report, published Friday in the journal JAMA Health Forum, examined insurance claims data from 2017 to 2021 on more than 14 million Americans ages 15 and older. Researchers found that during the first year and a half of the coronavirus pandemic, women ages 40 to 64 were significantly more likely than expected to experience serious complications like alcohol-related cardiovascular and liver disease, as well as severe withdrawal.

Alcohol consumption in the United States has generally increased over the last 20 years, said Dr. Timothy Naimi, the director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. Dr. Naimi was a co-author on a recent paper that showed deaths from excessive alcohol use in the United States rose by nearly 30 percent between 2016 and 2021.

While men still die more often from drinking-related causes than women, deaths among women are climbing at a faster rate. “The gap is narrowing,” said Dr. Bryant Shuey, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author of the new study.

The study looked at serious health issues related to drinking, including alcohol-related liver and heart disease, inflammation of the stomach lining that led to bleeding, pancreatitis, alcohol-related mood disorders and withdrawal. Researchers compared insurance claims data for these complications with the rates they expected to see based on past prevalence of these conditions.

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