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Women more likely to develop drink addiction

London Times | May 17, 2005
By Nigel Hawkes

WOMEN can become addicted to alcohol more quickly than men and suffer brain damage sooner from drinking, scientists have found.

A brain-scan study found evidence that women are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of excessive drinking.

The charity Alcohol Concern said that the findings were alarming in the light of reports of increasing problem drinking among British women.

Scientists in Germany carried out scans on the brains of 158 volunteers, including 76 alcoholic men and women and 82 healthy people. The alcoholic participants were recruited from a six-week in- patient treatment programme.The results supported previous evidence of gender-related harmful effects of alcohol, such as mental impairment, heart and skeletal muscle damage and liver disease. All are known to occur earlier in women than in men even when they are significantly less exposed to alcohol, Karl Mann, of the University of Heidelberg, said.

The findings appear in the May issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Srabani Sen, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “We know that women metabolise alcohol differently from men and absorb it into their bodies more quickly. The findings need to be viewed in light of the fact that women are drinking more and more . . . This research is quite worrying.”

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