Women more susceptible to damaging effects of alcohol, says Houston Methodist expert

Drinking too much can make you feel bad the next morning, but for some women, drinking more than a moderate amount could also be very dangerous

"One drink a day might be too much for a woman who has a genetic pre-disposition to cirrhosis of the liver," said Howard Monsour, M.D., chief of hepatology at Houston Methodist Hospital "One drink for a woman has about twice the effect as it does for the same amount consumed by a man."

Monsour says women are more susceptible to the damaging effects of alcohol because they have difficulty metabolizing an enzyme in the liver called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). ADH helps convert alcohol to acetaldehyde, which is eventually is metabolized to carbon dioxide and water. This inability causes a larger amount of the alcohol to reach the blood and eventually cause cirrhosis of the liver, a disease that normally has no visible signs until liver damage is too extensive.

"About 30 percent of the population has a genetic disposition to cirrhosis of the liver, and have the ability to develop scar tissue when they get an inflammatory response in the liver," Monsour said. "It's important for people to know about their family history before making the decisions to drink large amounts of alcohol. "

Monsour says alcohol can have other effects on women such as:

  • Excessive drinking can result in memory loss and shrinkage of the brain. Women are more susceptible than men - brain damage appears with shorter periods of excessive drinking
  • Women who drink or a greater risk of heart muscle damage then men with less alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol consumption increases risk of breast cancer
  • Alcohol consumption increases the risk of sexual assault and female dating violence victimization.

Monsour adds that people who think drinking a beer is better than hard liquor are misguided. One beer is equal to one shot of whiskey or one, four-ounce glass of wine. The alcohol content is the same in all three drinks.

"I know a lot of people will be venturing out to parties and family gatherings this holiday season and drinking probably more alcohol than normal. The key is make sure it doesn't become a habit," Monsour said. "Knowing your limit at all times will help you avoid damaging liver disease and possibly a liver transplant. It's important to think before you drink."

Source: Houston Methodist


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption associated with reductions in overall brain volume