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Women and Drinking

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Exercise, diet, hormones, and stress: keeping up with all the health issues facing women is a challenge.

Alcohol presents yet another health challenge for women. Even in small amounts, alcohol affects women differently than men. In some ways, heavy drinking is much more risky for women than it is for men.

With any health issue, accurate information is key. There are times and ways to drink that are safer than others. Every woman is different. No amount of drinking is 100 percent safe, 100 percent of the time, for every woman. With this in mind, it’s important to know how alcohol can affect a woman’s health and safety.

How Much Is Too Much?

Sixty percent of U.S. women have at least one drink a year. Among women who drink, 13 percent have more than seven drinks per week.

For women, this level of drinking is above the recommended limits published in the

Dietary Guidelines for Americans. which are issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (The Dietary Guidelines can be viewed online at .)

The Dietary Guidelines define moderate drinking as no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.

The Dietary Guidelines point out that drinking more than one drink per day for women can increase the risk for motor vehicle crashes, other injuries, high blood pressure, stroke, violence, suicide, and certain types of cancer.

Some people should not drink at all, including:

Anyone under age 21

People of any age who are unable to restrict their drinking to moderate levels

Women who may become pregnant or who are pregnant

People who plan to drive, operate machinery, or take part in other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination

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