(ORDO NEWS) — According to the work of American and Australian researchers, over the past hundred years, in many countries, women have become as addicted to alcohol as men. True, the consequences for girls are more serious: they often have liver, heart and brain diseases. In addition, the risk of breast cancer is significantly increased. Scientists suggest that the matter is in female sex hormones – estrogens that affect the perception of ethanol.
Less fat, more alcohol
In general, there are still more chronic alcoholics among men. True, at the expense of the elderly. Born between 1991 and 2000, girls abuse alcohol already on a par with the stronger sex. And female mortality associated with excessive love of drinking is increasing.
Thus, according to the US National Institutes of Health, the number of white women who died from cirrhosis over the past 15 years has increased by almost 85 percent (for men – 32 percent). In addition, significantly increased patients entering hospitals with an alcoholic overdose.
Similar information for Russia is provided by the World Health Organization. Although in general Russians consume alcohol by almost 30 percent less than in 2003, there are a lot of women who die from liver failure related to alcoholism.
Women, as a rule, drink no more than men. They were just unlucky in terms of physiology. Firstly, the female body produces less alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, which is responsible for the breakdown of ethyl alcohol. Secondly, it contains much more adipose tissue, which retains ethanol well, and less water, which helps to remove its processed products from the body. As a result, women feel alcohol intoxication stronger and longer, even in comparison with men of the same weight as them.
In addition, a weaker sex quickly becomes addicted to alcohol. Studies show that women who have problems with drinking begin to abuse it at an older age than male alcoholics.
Hormones make you drink
American scientists believe that sex hormones, estrogens, may be to blame for female alcoholism. Observing two dozens of girls aged 20-22 for a month, the researchers noticed that they drink more when their blood levels of estradiol, or E2, are elevated. The same effect was observed in female mice that added ethyl alcohol to the nutrient mixture: they drank more than males and females with a low estradiol content.
Specialists at the University of Illinois in Chicago suggest that this is due to the characteristics of the brain. The fact is that with high activity of estrogen receptors located on the surface of neurons of the ventral region of the tire (GP), they are more excited in response to ethanol. This area of the brain is involved in reward systems and plays an important role in the formation of nicotine and drug addiction.
Biologists recorded the electrical signals of GP neurons in mice, which were added to the nutrient solution with 20 percent ethyl alcohol. In females, nerve cells in this part of the brain were more aroused due to alcohol. When scientists, with the help of RNA viruses, suppressed the activity of these receptors, mice drank almost 30 percent less alcohol solution. True, the effect was only in females, although males also have estrogen receptors in this part of the brain. This means that the mechanisms of the development of alcohol dependence are different for representatives of different sexes, the authors conclude.
Harder to wean
According to scientists from the University of Pennsylvania (USA), it is more difficult for women to completely abandon alcohol because of the characteristics of the brain. Researchers observed mice that were given a solution for 42 days, gradually increasing the alcohol concentration from three to ten percent. Biologists noticed that females on average consumed significantly more ethanol than males.
Six weeks later, drinking bowls with alcohol were removed from the cells, and rodents with withdrawal symptoms were tested daily for anxiety and depression. According to the first point, alcoholic animals did not differ much from their sober relatives, but their signs of depression were stronger.
At the same time, a study of the activity of their brain showed that in the normal state in mice with withdrawal syndrome, inhibitory neurons in the prefrontal cortex are more excited, and on the contrary, weaker in the tonsil. When scientists tested the animals for anxious behavior and despair, the neurons of the first zone were inhibited, the second – activated. As a result, rodents developed depressive behavior. Moreover, all this was manifested more strongly in females.
Researchers believe that the processes they describe may well explain why withdrawal symptoms develop faster in women.
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