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Binge drinking is on the rise among women

If you’ve ever gone out to the bar after work and had one drink become two become three become 10, then you are not alone. A new study shows that the binge drinking rates for women rose almost 36 percent between 2002 and 2012. It’s a scary statistic with very real consequences for women.

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study looks at the drinking habits of both men and women. Men’s binge drinking rates rose 23 percent over the same time period, and men are still more likely to binge drink overall. Even so, the statistics for women are staggering.

“It seems like women are trying to catch up to the men in binge drinking,” lead study author Ali Mokdad told Kaiser Health News. “It’s really, really scary.”

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Indeed it is. Because binge drinking for women has many repercussions. Many see a connection between drinking and sexual assault. And while no one in their right mind would blame a woman’s drinking for violent decisions made by men, those of us who went to college probably remember making one or two bad decisions fueled by alcohol that we would not have made sober.

But it is more than that too.

Research shows that drinking alcoholic beverages — beer, wine, and liquor — increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones, which increases the risk of estrogen-positive cancers and may also increase breast cancer risk by damaging DNA in cells.

Obviously we all know the dangers women encounter while they are pregnant and drinking and what alcohol can do to a developing fetus, but there are also everyday dangers to binge drinking. Think of the hangovers. The loss of productivity.

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I am no teetotaler. I love to drink as much as the next person. But binge drinking in excess is dangerous, both to women and to men. These statistics are alarming. Maybe the next time you are setting out to imbibe, a better plan is to decide exactly when you want to stop. And then do.

I know for me, two drinks is my max before I head into hangover town. I don’t always follow that plan (see also: last Saturday night), but when I do, I am much happier.

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