While the effects of alcohol abuse are well known, “binge drinking is an important and under-recognized women’s health issue,” according to Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Binge drinking among women

According to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls report binge drinking. Photo by CDC

In its Vital Signs report released Tuesday, the agency documented the frequency of binge drinkers — four or more drinks on an occasion for women and girls — and how high rates among females are associated with increased health risks.

The report looked at the drinking behavior of approximately 278,000 U.S. women aged 18 and older and 7,500 U.S. high school girls, and found that:

  • 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls report binge drinking;
  • half of all high school girls who drink alcohol report binge drinking;
  • drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes 23,000 deaths among women and girls in the U.S. each year; and
  • 14 million U.S. women binge drink three times a month and consume an average of six drinks per binge.

During a teleconference Tuesday, Frieden and Robert Brewer of CDC’s Alcohol Program discussed the health risks specific to women and girls, including breast cancer.

“One thing that’s very important is that the overwhelming majority of people who binge drink are not alcoholics,” Frieden said. “About 50 percent of all alcohol consumed by adults and about 90 percent by [youth under the age of 21] is consumed during a binge drink.”

Added Brewer: “The rate of binge drinking among high school girls is almost as high as it is for high school boys. … While the risk of binge drinking among high school boys is lowering, it’s not so for girls.”

Find more binge drinking facts at CDC online.