Most college students are warned about the risks of binge drinking: date rapes, alcohol poisoning, accidental injuries, and even long-term memory problems. But many may not be aware of the health dangers of exceeding too many alcoholic drinks on a weekly basis; in fact, women are more likely to do this than men, according to a recent study from Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine.
The researchers surveyed nearly 1000 freshman college students attending schools in New England once every two weeks for about four months to determine how much they drank daily and how much they drank over the course of the week. They found that women were about 50 percent more likely than men to exceed the daily and weekly limits set by the National Institutes of Alcoholic Abuse and Alcoholism.
Those guidelines say no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week for women. For men, the guidelines state no more than four drinks in a day or 14 drinks per week.
The differences in the recommendations are based on cut-off points for disease risks, said study leader Bettina Hoeppner, a biostatistician at the Center for Addiction Medicine. A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer or liver disease rises above average when she exceeds that alcohol limit. So, too, does a man’s risk of developing liver disease and other alcohol-related health problems.