Thursday, 10 March 2011

International Womens Day: How to Celebrate?

Women and Alcohol in Ireland: Internationl Women's Day March 8th 2011



On International Women's Day Gargle Nation reproduces below two articles assessing the state of alcohol consumption by women in Ireland. The simple fact is that it is rising. World Health Organisation stats had already identified a move towards wine drinking in Ireland as part of a general rise in consumption amongst those who drink. This could be interpreted as a rise in women's consumption, more likely to be wine at home than beer in the pub.  A corresponding rise in drinking by teenage girls was confirmed in the Alcohol Action Ireland report discussed by Director Fiona Ryan in interviews with Deborah Condon of Irish Health and Claire Murphy of the Herald below. 



The Alcohol Action report tells us that : “Recent years have seen profound changes in women’s drinking habits, the impact of which has shown a number of worrying trends. Since 1995, Irish teenage girls have been drinking as much and sometimes more than their male counterparts. In the same period, the proportion of Irish teenage girls discharged from hospital for alcohol-related conditions increased by almost a third".

A social analysis of the issues raised is in Sarah Carey's GUBU blog below.  As she writes, 'We insist on constructing some Brendan Behanesque romantic vision of the soulful Irish singing and dancing in high spirits with the necessary aid of spirits and whatever you’re having yourself.  It’s the famine, the poitin, the emigration and the poverty. No, it’s the weather, the British and the Catholic Church – the suppression of our sexual desires don’t you know. Does it matter anymore? We drink too much and its time to get over it'.

Pity that the Programme for Governement published this same week contains no specific recommendations for alcohol treatment or for addressing the issue of women and alcohol.  Any ideas out there, please feel free to post or comment.   The full Alcohol Action article can be viewed here.

Report by Deborah Condon on Irish Health.com

Alcohol-related conditions are on the rise among Irish women, Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) has warned.
The national charity for alcohol-related issues has just launched a new information leaflet detailing what every woman needs to know about drinking.  "While for many of us, alcohol is something we enjoy, it's important to recognise the health risks that go hand in hand with drinking. Women are more affected by alcohol than men are - it's not sexist, it's a fact. We are smaller, we metabolise drink at a slower rate and it affects our vital organs more," explained AAI director, Fiona Ryan.

According to Ms Ryan, research shows that alcohol-related conditions are on the increase among women. For example, between 1995 and 2004, there was an increase of 29% in the proportion of Irish teenage girls under the age of 18 who were discharged from hospital for alcohol related conditions compared to an increase of 9% for boys.  Meanwhile, one in four women in Ireland discharged from hospital for alcohol related conditions were under the age of 30, compared to one in six men in the same age range.
"As women develop alcohol-related health complications earlier than men, it is likely that, if current trends continue, we will see higher numbers of middle-aged women at increased risk of dying as a result of alcohol-related conditions," Ms Ryan noted.

With an estimated four in 10 female drinkers in Ireland already drinking to harmful levels, it is vital that women be made more aware of the health-risks associated with alcohol, she added.  "Many women do not know that drinking just one standard drink a day - the equivalent of a small glass of wine or a half a pint of beer - can increase a woman's risk of breast cancer by 9%, with three to six drinks a day increasing the risk by as much as 41%," Ms Ryan explained.  She also pointed out that when it comes to drinking, women are more susceptible to tissue damage, such as cirrhosis of the liver, as well as alcohol dependence.  "Recent years have seen profound changes in women's drinking habits, the impact of which has shown a number of worrying trends. Since 1995, Irish teenage girls have been drinking as much and sometimes more than their male counterparts. In the same period, the proportion of Irish teenage girls discharged from hospital for alcohol-related conditions increased by almost a third," she said.

AAI is calling on the new government to take steps to reduce the harm caused to women by providing them with targeted action-driven information about alcohol misuse and the risks it poses to their physical and mental health.  The charity is also asking the new government to regulate alcohol marketing and introduce legislation around a ‘floor price' - a price below which alcohol cannot be sold.  The new information leaflet, Women and alcohol: Making the drink link, was launched ahead of International Women's Day (March 8). It can be viewed here.

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40% of women here drink to harmful levels
 
By Claire Murphy

ALMOST half of women are drinking to harmful levels, a shocking new survey has found.  Research also found that female drinkers are now accounting for one quarter of all alcohol-related hospital admissions.
A study by Alcohol Action Ireland has discovered that 40pc of women drinkers in Ireland are drinking to harmful levels.  Director Fiona Ryan said that although alcohol is something many people enjoy, it was important to recognise the health risks that go hand-in-hand with drinking.

"Women are more affected by alcohol than men are -- it's not sexist, it's a fact," she said. "We are smaller, we metabolise drink at a slower rate and it affects our vital organs more."  Between 1995 and 2004, there was a 29pc increase in the number of Irish teenage girls under 18 discharged from hospital for alcohol-related conditions. This compares to an increase of 9pc for boys.  With four in 10 women drinkers in Ireland already drinking to harmful levels, Ms Ryan said it is vital now more than ever that women be made more aware of the health-risks associated with alcohol.

Ms Ryan said that drinking just one standard drink a day could be harmful for women and could increase the risk of breast cancer by 9pc. If a woman takes three to six drinks a day, the risk of cancer increases by as much as 41pc.  Ms Ryan said that since 1995, Irish teenage girls have been drinking as much and sometimes more than their male counterparts. "In the same period, the proportion of Irish teenage girls discharged from hospital for alcohol-related conditions increased by almost a third," she said.

Women who drink four or more drinks a day are five times more likely than non-drinkers to develop mouth, oropharynx and laryngeal cancers and eight times more likely to experience haemorrhagic stroke, Ms Ryan explained. And the director added that a man who drinks six or more standard drinks a day is 13 times more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver compared to a non-drinker. But a woman needs to only drink four standard drinks a day -- about half a bottle of wine -- to increase her risk of developing cirrhosis to the same degree.


Also see Sarah Carey's full post from 2007 and extracts from John Waters column. 

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