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Women are drinking more despite the risks




Guests enjoy the 2012 vintage Beaujolais Nouveau wine in Tokyo on November 15, 2012, after the embargo on the wine was removed at midnight.
Guests enjoy the 2012 vintage Beaujolais Nouveau wine in Tokyo on November 15, 2012, after the embargo on the wine was removed at midnight.
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

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Women in the U.S. are consuming more alcohol than they have in decades past, and they face greater health risks for doing so. For one, a woman's body has fewer enzymes for breaking down alcohol and less water weight to diffuse its effects. That means women are at greater risk for liver disease.

Researchers also say drinking increases a woman's chances of getting breast cancer, as studies have shown that alcohol can raise estrogen levels. They also say that the way women are drinking today — binge drinking, foregoing meals — is cause for concern. Experts say the rise in risky drinking is due to increased social acceptability, gender equality, culture and even a preference for hard liquor over beer.

Women are also being arrested at an increasing rate for driving under the influence. A recent report by KPCC analyzing 20 years of California DMV records shows a significant increase in the number of women being arrested for driving under the influence.

The DMV reports that women made up about 24 percent of DUI arrests statewide in 2011, the last year statistics are available. That's an increase over the 11 percent of DUI arrests in 1989.

What's behind this increase in alcohol consumption among women? Should more be done to educate women about the dangers of alcohol?

Guest:

Elizabeth Aguilera, KPCC Health Reporter