BOSTON, MA — Various studies suggest that moderate drinking helps
prevent cardiovascular disease and lowers the risk for dementia. What
hasn't made the headlines are the downsides of alcohol for women. The
July issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch reports on the risks of alcohol, and why women, especially older women, are particularly vulnerable to them.
is solid evidence for benefits from moderate drinking. For example,
studies have shown that one drink per day, compared with no drinking at
all, can reduce a woman's risk for heart disease and stroke by as much
as 50%. Other research suggests that older women who drink moderately
have better cognitive skills.
are also risks. Even as little as one-half drink per day increases the
risk for breast cancer, possibly because alcohol raises estrogen blood
levels, which can promote the growth of breast tumors. Women are also
quicker than men to become dependent on alcohol and to suffer the
consequences, including damage to the brain and other organs,
psychiatric problems, and accidents. One in 13 adults in the United
States has a serious alcohol problem, and at least six million of them
To continue reading this article, you must login
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.