Women in their 50s and 60s are more likely to drink at levels that exceed drinking guidelines compared to younger women, according to a new study.
Researchers from New Edith Cowan University in Australia found that women aged 50-70 are more likely to excessively drink while believing that consuming alcohol at higher risk levels is completely normal and acceptable.
The study, published in the journal of Sociology of Health & Illness, conducted research on 49 women between ages 50 and 69 in two countries — Denmark and Australia — where they discovered that many of these women in the study were fine with drinking the hard stuff (and aware of the potential health risks), but care more about being in control, having fun, and not embarrassing themselves.
“Respondents from both countries indicated that alcohol use among women their age was normal and acceptable,” Dr. Julie Dare from Edith Cowan University said in a press release. “However, the importance of ‘staying in control’ while drinking emerged as an important qualifier to the social acceptability of drinking.”
In Australia, health experts say drinking more than two drinks on any day increases the risk of premature death. In the US, consuming as little as one drink four or more times a week can increase your risk of premature death by 20%, according to one study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
While some women in the study said that they exercised as a way to “neutralize” their alcohol intake, there might be a reason as to why old women find it more beneficial because it is a way for them to socialize.
One respondent in the study said that it’s become “part of the norm.”
“It is something we do with our acquaintances, friends, and families. That’s just something we do,” said a respondent.
“Health messaging of no more than two standard drinks per day and no more than four standard drinks on any single drinking occasion didn’t seem to be relevant to women in this age group. There was a fair percentage drinking over that,” Dare said.
“In Australia, younger women are starting to drink less, their rates have declined, but the proportion of women aged 60 and older drinking at levels that exceed single occasion guidelines (more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion) has increased. Similar trends are evident in Denmark and the United Kingdom.”
Drinking, in general, is up for women during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to another study.
Research published in JAMA Network Open found that women drank around 5.4 beverages per month, which is nearly a day more (4.6 days) compared to 2019. That number also increased for heavy drinking, which was four or more drinks over a span of a few hours.
Men were found to be the biggest drinkers, consuming around 23 drinks per month compared to 15 for women, according to the survey.