CDC Releases Alarming News About Alcohol-Related Deaths Among Women

While men have notoriously been known for consuming more alcohol than women in years past, the gap is quickly narrowing. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, men used to outnumber women by 3:1 in consuming alcohol, but recently the odds have grown to 1:1. In fact, there is evidence from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showing that young women in their 20s are getting drunk more often than men of the same age.

In addition, women have a worse outcome when they consume excessive alcohol. There is an enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) which is released by the liver that helps break down alcohol in the body, and women produce less of this enzyme than men (via BBC). Women also have more fat and retain less water than men which heightens their symptoms and medical issues from alcohol.

Now, a new study is shedding the light on recent alcohol-related deaths in women.

Alcohol-related deaths sharply increased for women during the pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol-related deaths rose from 2019 to 2020 as many people became depressed, anxious, and stuck inside their homes. What may be surprising is a CDC report that women ages 35 to 44 had the biggest increase and rose by 42% (NBC News). Prior to the pandemic, data shows that although alcohol-related death did typically increase, they never grew more than 7% per year.

"Alcohol is often overlooked," Marissa Esser, leader of the alcohol program at the CDC told NPR, "But it is a leading preventable cause of death."

The causes of the deaths varied with liver disease being the leading cause. After liver disease, acute pancreatitis, alcohol poisoning, and drunk driving were other causes. In addition, mental and behavioral health conditions were found to be another top cause.

According to U.S. News & World Report, women were found to have taken on the majority of childcare stress when schools closed and adults were forced to work from home or lost their jobs. This lingering stress is thought to be a precipitator of increased alcohol consumption.