Women's drinking behaviour relative to Australian guidelines and associated factors over the lifetime

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Women's drinking behaviour relative to Australia's drinking behaviour relative to Australian guidelines and associated factors over the lifetime


In a study by Powers et al almost 40,000 women in three age groups (18-23 years, 45-50 years and 70-75 years) were surveyed approximately every three years between 1996 and 2012. The women answered questions about how often and how much alcohol they usually drank per week, and how often they binge drank. Four drinking behaviours were defined: i) no risk, ii) binge less than once a month, iii) binge once a month or more, iv) long-term risk (more than two drinks a day on average). The four groups were then compared.

The study found that risky drinking decreases with age. A quarter of young women drink at no risk. Half drink at no risk in their late 30s, compared with two-thirds in their late 40s and 90% at 70-75 years. In terms of binge drinking, one third of young women binge at least once a month but this drops rapidly to 15% in their late 30s, 10% in the late 40s and less than 5% at 70-75 years. Few women drink at long-term risk. Smokers are most likely to be risky drinkers, and women who care for, or have close relationships with others, are less likely to be risky drinkers.


Powers JR, Anderson AE, Byles JE, Mishra G, Loxton D. (2015). Do women grow out of risky drinking? A prospective study of three cohorts of Australian women. Drug Alcohol Rev. [in press].