AUGUST 01, 2008

Just Say No to Alcohol

New research on the drinking habits of young Americans born between 1934 and 1983 found that women began drinking at increasingly younger ages. Simultaneously, the rate of alcohol dependence rose.

The findings are based on data from nearly 40,000 men and women who responded to 2 large national surveys—between 1991 and 1992 and 2001 and 2002. The researchers found that women born between 1934 and 1943 began drinking at age 22, on average. The age gradually declined among women born after 1943.

Reporting in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (August 2008), the researchers found that the increase in early drinking over time appeared to explain much of the increase in women's dependence on alcohol. For example, younger women who started drinking at age 18 were no more prone to have an alcohol problem, compared with older women who started drinking at age 18.

Pregnancy, Tooth Loss Linked

Women who have many children are more prone to having missing teeth, according to data on 2635 women aged 18 to 64. The participants had reported at least 1 pregnancy in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study results were recently published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Stefani Russell, MD, attributed certain biological and behavior changes related to pregnancy and childbirth that may be the root of the cause:

  • Pregnancy can make women more prone to gum inflammation, and repeated pregnancies can cause more frequent outbreaks of gum inflammation that may cause tooth loss in women with periodontitis
  • Women may delay treatment because of financial concerns related to having children
  • Caring for children may lead a mother to reduce the time she spends on her own oral health

Lung Cancer Rates Same for Men, Women Smokers

The results of a report from the National Cancer Institute found that women who smoke are just as likely to get lung cancer, compared with men who smoke. Women who never smoked, however, faced a greater risk of lung cancer than men who never smoked.

In the largest study of its kind, the rate of lung cancer in men and women who smoked comparable amounts of cigarettes was quite similar. The data from 8 states included 279,214 men and 184,623 women aged 50 to 71. The data included questions about alcohol consumption, and whether they were current smokers, ex-smokers, or had never smoked.

Reporting in the June 14, 2008, issue of The Lancet Oncology, the researchers found that 1.47% of the men and 1.21% of the women were diagnosed with lung cancer. Of the women who never smoked, they were 1.3 times more apt to develop lung cancer, compared with men who never smoked, however. Both men and women, who smoked >2 packs a day, were almost 50 times more likely to develop lung cancer, compared with individuals who never smoked.

Elderly Women Face Greater Dementia Risk

Women aged 90 and older are more prone to dementia, compared with men, said a study in the July 2, 2008, issue of Neurology. For the study, the researchers examined a survey of 911 men and women aged 90 and older between 2003 and 2006. In the 1980s, all the participants had resided in a retirement community in Orange County, California, and took part in another study at that time. Of the participants, two thirds were women and most were Caucasian, upper-middle class, and well-educated.

Although no clear indication exists for the discrepancy, which found signs of senility in 45% of the women, the researchers said it is possible that women simply live longer with the condition.

Gender a Factor in Kidney Transplants

A new study found that women who receive kidneys from men have a greater rate of graft failure, compared with donorrecipient combinations.

The study, in the July 5, 2008, issue of The Lancet, looked at data on 195,516 individuals in Europe, who received kidneys from deceased donors between 1985 and 2004, and identified complex gender interactions. The findings indicated that graft loss was more prevalent with kidneys from women donors, compared with men donors after both 1 year and 10 years. Transplantation of donor kidneys from men into women patients was linked with an 8% increased risk of graft failure and an 11% increased risk of graft failure?related death in the first year, compared with all other gender combinations.

F A S T   F A C T : Mental disorders are most common among women aged 18 to 25 years.