Scientists have found that female alcoholics experience greater brain damage than male alcoholics and the damage occurs within a shorter period of time and with less overall consumption of alcohol.
Multiple studies have found a more deleterious affect of alcohol dependence on female alcoholic subjects' cognitive functioning compared with male alcoholic subjects.
In one particular study, researchers gave several cognitive skills tests to four groups of Russian alcoholics, and found that women performed worse tasks related directly to daily function.
Cognitive Abilities Impaired
The female alcoholics performed worse on tests of visual working memory, spatial planning, problem solving, and cognitive flexibility, compared to the male alcoholics.
The results also indicated a "telescoping" of the negative effects of alcohol consumption for women, meaning they experience them earlier in their drinking careers and with less alcohol consumption than do men.
"The term 'telescoping' generally refers to the fact that women experience the negative physiological consequences of alcohol abuse/dependence earlier in their drinking careers and with less alcohol consumption than do men," explained Barbara A. Flannery, senior scientist at RTI International and corresponding author for the study. "For example, women have greater liver, heart and other cardiovascular consequences than do men."
True For Young Women Also
"Women should be made aware," said Barbara A. Flannery, senior scientist at RTI International and corresponding author for the study, "and this includes teenagers and college women who drink to excess, that alcohol has a more detrimental effect on them both physically and cognitively than on men and it would behoove them to drink more in moderation."
"More specifically, the study reveals that excessive alcohol can reduce one's intellectual abilities. This is important because this knowledge might have increased motivating power to help some individuals move away from destructive drinking," said James C. Garbutt, professor of psychiatry and research scientist at Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. "Further, the observation that women may be more sensitive to these effects could help in counseling and in public-service announcements targeted towards women."
Source: Flannery B, et al. "Gender Differences in Neurocognitive Functioning Among Alcohol-Dependent Russian Patients." Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2007.00372.x
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