56% of female university students intentionally try to get drunk before their male class mates according to a study by the University of Vigo.
These numbers show a stark picture of university binge drinking, especially for women. While male students drink more often, when female students do drink, they consume far more alcohol in a much shorter amount of time.
"The amount drunk per unit of time is higher among women. In other words, even though male students drink more often, females do so more intensively in shorter periods of time, which is known as binge drinking", explained to SINC José Mª Cancela Carral, co-author of the study published by the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Among the 958 people interviewed for the study 41.3% of the men and 56.1% of the women admitted to binge drinking.
"We were also surprised by the high consumption of illegal drugs among university students -- 44.9% of men and 30.9% of women -- which we understand could lead to significant future health problems, mainly related to the nervous system," researchers said.
Currently the statistics for binge drinking vary widely by country. One in six US adults admit to binge drinking around four times a month. A 2009 study suggests that some university drinking may be fuelled by students housing arrangements.
Studies show co-ed housing increases the risk of binge drinking 2.5 times. Research also shows that many students drink because they feel it is socially unacceptable not to. In one study students reported that they did not necessarily want to binge drink. They only engaged in the behaviour because it was socially unacceptable not to.
Heavy drinking among women does not end once they leave university. Experts are warning that older women are becoming the biggest burden on the NHS due to alcohol related conditions. This includes liver damage, stroke, and cancer. In a UK wide survey, women between 45 and 64 drunk around 8.8 units of alcohol a week, which works out to about a bottle of wine. Middle class working women are even more likely to drink, consuming 9.1 units per week.
Labour’s health spokesperson, Diane Abbott said, “The stresses and pressures facing women in middle-life are often overlooked, and a ‘drinking to forget’ culture has taken hold.
“We must have far better advice and screening from GPs for women in this age group, who often do not show any obvious signs of problem drinking.”