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CDC: Binge drinking a serious problem for women, girls

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By Fran Jeffries
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA -- If your mother or sister had four or more alcoholic drinks at the New Year's Eve party, and imbibes that much or more at every social gathering, she might be a binge drinker.
Binge drinking continues to be a worrisome, under-recognized health problem among women and girls, according to a CDC report issued Tuesday. Nearly 14 million women binge drink about three times a month, and consume an average of six drinks per binge, the CDC report said.
"It is alarming to see that binge drinking is so common among women and girls, and that women and girls are drinking so much when they do," said Robert Brewer, of the CDC's Alcohol Program. Binge drinking for women is defined as consuming four or more alcohol drinks, such as beer, liquor or wine, on an occasion.
According to the report, which is based on results of a 2011 phone survey of about 278,000 women and 7,500 high school girls:
• About 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls report binge drinking.
• Women who binge drink do so frequently -- about 3 times a month -- and have about 6 drinks per episode.
• Binge drinking was most common among white and Hispanic women, and among women with household incomes of $75,000 or more.
• Half of all high school girls who drink alcohol report binge drinking. Girls are quickly catching up to boys when it comes to binge drinking.
• Binge drinking results in about 23,000 deaths in women and girls each year.
Binge drinking puts women at a higher risk for many health problems, such as breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease and unintended pregnancy, said CDC Director Thomas Friedan.
Brewer said effective ways exist to curb the prevalence of binge drinking among women and girls. "The good news is that the same scientifically proven strategies for communities and clinical settings that we know can prevent binge drinking in the overall population can also work to prevent binge drinking among women and girls."
Story tags » HealthSocial IssuesAlcohol

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