Listen up ladies.
Women simply don't metabolize alcohol in the same way as men. It's called the telescoping effect.
Several research studies have shown that some women who drink heavily can do as much damage to their bodies in four to five years as a man who has been drinking for 20 to 25 years, according to Laura Veach, Ph.D., director of screening and counseling intervention services at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
"It has something to do with the concentration of water and fat, but we're really not sure that we understand the whole picture because there is much less research on how women process alcohol," Veach said. "We do know that alcohol stays in the liver longer in women than in men, which may explain why women can experience more impairment and liver damage."
Knowing what constitutes a standard drink size and learning to count and visually measure drinks can help women stay healthy, just as getting an annual physical or skin cancer check does, Veach said.
Here are some things to remember:
- According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's website Rethinking Drinking, a standard drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or one-and-a-half ounces of liquor.
- A regular bottle of wine contains five standard drinks.
- For women, no more than seven standard drinks a week are recommended.
- Risky drinking is considered to be four standard drinks in any one day or drinking episode.
- It takes about an hour per drink for the liver to metabolize alcohol.
"Get a measuring cup and pour out five ounces of wine to see what that really looks like," Veach said. "It might surprise you to see how it looks in a wine glass, especially because the size and shape of glasses can vary so much.
"That one simple thing can really help you keep track of how much you are drinking the next time you're out with friends and help you avoid risky drinking."