This study found that women who drank alcohol moderately were in better health overall than those who didn’t drink. The study was done by the Oregon Health and Science University, in collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland. The researchers surveyed 3,069 men and 2,600 women members of Kaiser Permanente Northwest. The investigators write, “For both genders, light to moderate consumption and more frequent drinking were associated with better health and functioning; relationships were stronger among women than men.”
The research found that women who drank moderately had better health and physical functioning than non-drinkers. On the other hand, women who drank heavily were in worse health. Because women have more body fat than men, blood alcohol concentration for a given amount of consumption is greater in women than that of men.
The greater blood alcohol concentration in women appears to increase the benefits of light and moderate drinking, but also raises the danger of heavy drinking. The investigators cautioned that they did not find that better health is a result of moderate drinking. In fact, a Kaiser Permanente report several years ago found moderate drinkers also tended to lead healthier and more balanced lifestyles. Moderate drinking was defined as one to two drinks per occasion, two or three times a week, or 15 to 29 drinks spread out throughout the month.
Source: Green, C et al, Gender Differences in the Relationships between Multiple Measures of Alcohol Consumption and Physical and Mental Health. , Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 28(5):754-764, May 2004