Binge Drinking Facts

Binge drinking is not often recognized as a women’s-specific health problem, but nearly 14 million U.S. women binge drink about three times a month, and consume an average of six drinks per binge, according to a Vital Signs report released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report highlights how binge drinking puts women at increased risk for many health problems such as breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease, and unintended pregnancy. Pregnant women who binge drink expose a developing baby to high levels of alcohol, which can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and sudden infant death syndrome.

Some of the key findings include:

  • 1 in 8 adult women and 1 in 5 high school girls binge drink.
  • Women who binge drink tend to do so frequently – about 3 times a month – and in large amounts – consuming about 6 drinks per binge.
  • Binge drinking increases a woman’s chance of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and many other health problems.

The report concludes there are proven and effective strategies to address excessive drinking, including binge drinking among women and girls, such as those recommended by the Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide).

“Binge drinking causes many health problems, and there are proven ways to prevent excessive drinking,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. in a news release. “Effective community measures can support women and girls in making wise choices about whether to drink or how much to drink if they do.”

CDC scientists looked at the drinking behavior of approximately 278,000 U.S. women aged 18 and older for the past 30 days through data collected from the self-reported 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and for approximately 7,500 U.S. high school girls from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.