Researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre of the University of New South Wales, Australia, analyzed a historical range of 68 studies, from 1891 to 2014, related to the drinking habits of men and women, and published their findings in the journal BMJ Open. Three categories of alcohol use were calculated, including any alcohol use, problematic alcohol use and alcohol-related harm.
Historically, men have been more likely to demonstrate alcohol abuse and related harm. "There was a linear decrease over time in the sex ratio for all 3 categories of alcohol use and related harms. Among those born in the early 1900s, males were 2.2 (95 percent CI 1.9 to 2.5) times more likely than females to consume alcohol, 3.0 (95 percent CI 1.5 to 6.0) times more likely to drink alcohol in ways suggestive of problematic use and 3.6 (95 percent CI 0.4 to 30.3) times more likely to experience alcohol-related harms.
"Among cohorts born in the late 1900s, males were 1.1 (95 percent CI 1.1 to 1.2) times more likely than females to consume alcohol, 1.2 (95 percent CI 1.1 to 1.4) times more likely to drink alcohol in ways suggestive of problematic use and 1.3 (95 percent CI 1.2 to 1.3) times more likely to experience alcohol-related harms," the study found.
"Findings confirm the closing male-female gap in indicators of alcohol use and related harms."
"The sex ratio decreased linearly by 3.2 percent (95 percent CI 2.4 percent to 4.0 percent, t=-7.85, p<0.001) with each successive 5-year birth cohort," it said.
"Alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon. The present study calls this assumption into question and suggests that young women in particular should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms," according to the study.