Women who abuse alcohol pay a much higher physical price than men for their dangerous habit, a new study indicates.
Female alcoholics suffer almost twice the level of alcohol-related heart damage as their male counterparts even though they drink less, researchers at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and the University of Barcelona in Spain found.
“There’s reason for urgent concern on the part of women who may have problems with alcohol,” said Dr. Emanuel Rubin, study co-director and chairman of the department of pathology, anatomy and cell biology at Jefferson Medical College. “They put themselves at extreme risk, because the physiological toll is much higher.”
It is estimated that there are 8 million alcoholics in the United States, a third of whom are women, Rubin said at a Washington news conference Tuesday.
The study, contained in the July 12 Journal of the American Medical Association, centers on one basic premise, that women’s hearts are more sensitive to alcohol than men’s.
Along with ailments like liver damage and kidney failure, chronic drinkers often experience something called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, in which the heart’s muscle tissue becomes weak and damaged.
Hormones and breast cancer
A new Seattle-area study, to be published today suggests there’s no increase in breast cancer risk from long-term, postmenopausal use of hormone replacement therapy.
Only a month ago, a far larger Harvard Medical School study, also in a prestigious medical journal, said just about the opposite: that breast cancer risk does increase slightly with long-term hormone use after age 50.
If people find this confusing, “rightly so,” Dr. HansOlov Adami said in an interview. “It leaves me where I have been for quite a few years now.”
Adami, a cancer epidemiologist at University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden, said the data on breast cancer risk from hormone replacement therapy - whether there’s an an increase, no increase, or even a decrease - are still very iffy and, as usual, further research is needed.