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Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men’s Health
Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases.
Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g., drive fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death.
Drinking levels for men
- Approximately 62% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days and were more likely to binge drink than women (47%) during the same time period.
- Men average about 12.5 binge drinking episodes per person per year, while women average about 2.7 binge drinking episodes per year.
- Most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
- It is estimated that about 17% of men and about 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
Injuries and deaths as a result of excessive alcohol use
- Men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women.
- Among drivers in fatal motor-vehicle traffic crashes, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated (i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater).
- Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and, as a result, can increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.
- Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide.
Reproductive Health and Sexual Function
Excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in impotence, infertility, and reduction of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair.
- Excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault. Impaired judgment caused by alcohol may worsen the tendency of some men to mistake a women’s friendly behavior for sexual interest and misjudge their use of force.
- Also, alcohol use by men increases the chances of engaging in risky sexual activity including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex with a partner at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon in men.
There are a number of health conditions affected by excessive alcohol use that affect both men and women.
Long-Term Health Risks
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. These include but are not limited to—
- Neurological problems, including dementia, stroke and neuropathy.
- Cardiovascular problems (heart diseases), including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension.
- Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.
- Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, anti-social attitudes and family problems.
- Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.
- Liver diseases, including—
- Alcoholic hepatitis.
- Cirrhosis, which is among the 15 leading causes of all deaths in the United States.
- Among persons with Hepatitis C virus, worsening of liver function and interference with medications used to treat this condition.
- Other gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis.