Assume a man and a woman that weigh exactly the same consume the same amount of alcohol. It is very likely that the woman will have a greater Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) than the man. For example, let’s take a 38-year-old man that weighs 150 pounds and a 38-year-old woman that weighs the same 150 pounds and let’s give them two (2) mixed drinks in a one-hour period. The woman’s BAC may be up to approximately 60% higher. I know, that may be a little confusing because you’ve always thought that when it came to alcohol consumption, body weight was a pretty strong determining factor (the truth of the matter is that even that is not the be all, end all as lean muscle mass versus fat, also plays a role when comparing people of equal body weight and blood alcohol concentration because of the water content in lean muscle is greater than that in fat).
When comparing a man and a woman of equal body weight, a man’s body has, on average, a higher water content than a woman’s (61% for men and 52% for women). As a result, a woman is not as naturally equipped to dilute alcohol as efficiently as a man. In addition, a woman’s body metabolizes alcohol differently than a man’s body. Therefore, men are typically able to metabolize (break down) alcohol faster than women before it passes into the bloodstream. The reason being that women have less dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol.
Hormonal factors also play a role in intoxication and alcohol concentration in a woman’s body. A woman’s premenstrual hormonal changes cause intoxication to set in faster in the days right before a woman gets her period. Other medication with estrogen, such as birth control pills, tend to slow down the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the body.
What is “One Drink?”
It is common during the Holiday Season to attend many different events for work, networking or simply a gathering between family and friends. Be sure you know exactly what constitutes “one drink.”
Beer: One 12-ounce beer (5% alcohol).
Liquor: 1.5 ounces of liquor (40% alcohol or 80 proof). Note: Mixed drinks may not be measured can very easily contain far more than 1.5 ounces of alcohol.
Wine: 5 ounces of standard wine (12% alcohol).
Caution During the Holidays
The Holiday Season is a wonderful time of the year as we get to wind down and spend time with those whose company we enjoy. That means that we are almost always surrounded by alcohol and consuming alcohol at various functions and gatherings. **Newsflash: The Police know that as well and awareness is heightened during this time of year.
You need to be cognizant of what you’re consuming and just how much you’re consuming. Use the guidelines above, especially if you are at someone’s home or office where you or a friend are the ones doing the pouring (remember, “one drink” doesn’t always equal “one drink”).
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