Response to research published today on media’s portrayal of women’s binge drinking

28 December 2016: Today the BMJ Open publishes work done by researchers at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University on how the media report women’s and men’s binge drinking.

The researchers found women who binge drink are depicted more negatively by the media than men who do the same thing.

Commenting on the work, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said:

“We know that alcohol consumption among women has begun to ‘catch up’ to levels found among men in recent years. However, according to the latest statistics, 26.3% of men in the UK drink at hazardous or harmful levels, compared with 13.4% of women, so any focus on women’s drinking as being particularly problematic would seem misguided.

 Anyone who drinks alcohol, regardless of gender, places themselves at increased risk of over 60 illnesses and diseases, including heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Unfortunately, awareness of the harms associated by alcohol is very low. For example, only 1 in 10 people are aware of the link between alcohol and cancer.

The UK’s chief medical officers give the same advice to both men and women. They advise that there is no level of drinking which can be considered safe from risk, but that both men and women can keep their risks to a minimum by staying within the low risk guideline of 14 units a week, spread out across 4-5 days.

The public have the right to know about this guidance, so that they are empowered to make informed choices about their drinking. As women are more at risk from alcohol health harms compared to men due to their physical makeup, it is important they are aware of the guidelines and the risks.