Females, alcohol and hormones

lly takes fewer drinks for them to become impaired. Our study shows that when you control for that, and just look at the potency of alcohol on the brain mechanisms that cause sedation, females actually appear to be less sensitive to alcohol. Furthermore, the study emphasizes the need to explore how factors associated with the estrous cycle (or menstrual cycle in humans) may mediate this effect."

Cha added that the study also shows that adolescent male and female rats are similarly sedated by alcohol, but that adult male and female rats are not. "This result suggests that as humans mature from adolescence to adulthood, women may become less sensitive to alcohol-induced sedation than men do. This change may have consequences for the ability of an adult woman to physiologically gauge how impaired she is becoming as she drinks."

Furthermore, added Cha, "although we live in a society that favors equality between the sexes, men and women are not equal when it involves being affected by alcohol. In particular, this study's findings suggest that women, as the gender less affected by alcohol's sedative effects, should take greater care when gauging how much they have had to drink. This study underscores the need to look more closely at the factors that cause this sex difference in alcohol effects, and emphasizes that in some ways, alcohol is less potent in females than in males. We propose that hormonal fluctuations or substances affected by those hormonal fluctuations, such as neurosteroids may play a role in mediating this sex difference."



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