Alcohol Use and Older Adults

Frequently Asked Questions

8. Does alcohol affect men and women differently?

Yes, alcohol affects men and women differently. In general, older men are more likely to drink alcohol compared with older women. But women of all ages are often more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol.

Women tend to break alcohol down more slowly. Also, women have less water in their bodies than men, so alcohol becomes more concentrated. As a result, women may become more impaired than men after drinking the same amount. That is why the recommended drinking limit for women is lower than for men.

Drinking for a long time is more likely to damage a woman's health than a man's health. Research suggests that as little as one drink per day can slightly raise the risk of breast cancers in some women, especially those who have been through menopause or have a family history of cancer. But it is not possible to predict how alcohol will affect the risk for cancer in any one woman.