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Why are women more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than men?

Women are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than men are and develop serious alcohol problems more rapidly than men, and at lower doses, a process called "telescoping." This is partially because women's bodies absorb alcohol faster than men's because of a difference in the way a key enzyme works. The enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), breaks down alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. But this enzyme is less active in women than in men. Also, women have a smaller ratio of water to fat than men. That means there's less water to dilute the alcohol and more fat to capture it. One positive difference: Women seem to eliminate alcohol from their bodies faster than men.

Hormonal fluctuations in women may affect how alcohol is metabolized. Some women report feeling the effects of alcohol more quickly or strongly when they drink at certain times during their menstrual cycle.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.