Women face bigger effect from alcohol

PHILADELPHIA, PA., December 29, 2010

It's not just due to body size.

Even if a man and woman are the same size, with any given drink, a woman typically absorbs 30-percent more alcohol into her bloodstream.

We talked to an expert about why this happens.

Dr. Laura Picciano of Hahnemann University Hospital says there are several reasons.

First, women tend to have more body fat than men, which -

"Unfortunately, fat cannot absorb alcohol, number two a woman's estrogen level also affects the absorption of alcohol," she says.

If you take oral contraceptives or other estrogen-containing medication, Dr. Picciano says you will absorb more alcohol.

Plus, even a woman's time of the month can make a difference.

"A couple days before the menstrual cycle women tend to be more rapidly intoxicated," says Dr. Picciano.

And there's one more reason women are more affected by what they drink.

Women have less of an enzyme called dehydrogenase, which helps break down alcohol before it enters the bloodstream.

Of course what you eat or if you eat before drinking can make a difference.

Don't drink on an empty stomach, but try to avoid salty foods because they may make you drink more.

If you are drinking, make plans ahead of time on how you will get home, and who will be the designated driver.

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