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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
More women are drinking too much
The number of women who drink to excess has soared over the last decade, official statistics have shown.

They show the number of women drinking more than the recommended weekly limit of 14 units increased from 10% in 1988/89 to 17% in 2002/03.

The Office for National Statistics data said the rise in the number of people drinking to excess was almost entirely due to the number of women binging.

The number of men drinking over 21 units a week rose from 26 to 27%.

This is the latest in a long line of statistics that show people are drinking more - women included
Alcohol Concern spokesman
The problem of drinking to excess is most evident amongst people aged 16 to 24.

A third of young women in that age group drink more than 14 units a week, compared to just 15% in 1988/89.

Amongst young men, the percentage drinking over the recommended limit rose from 31 to 37%.

The ONS also looked at daily drinking limits - set at four units for women and six for men.

It found that, among young women, 42% had exceeded the limit at least once during the previous week, compared to 49% of men.

The figures on alcohol showed that heavy drinking - defined as above eight units for men and six units for women on at least one day in the last week - was most likely among younger people.

'Female-friendly bars'

The statistics were released as part of a health report from the ONS.

The ONS said: "Drinking above the recommended guidelines leads to increased risk of harm, both immediately and in later life.

"High levels of drinking play a part in mortality due to accidents and a number of disease, including cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, strokes and some cancers."

A spokesman for Alcohol Concern said: "This is the latest in a long line of statistics that show people are drinking more - women included."

He said women tended to more disposable income to spend on drinking, but that they were also targeted by the drinks industry through targeted products and female-friendly bars.

He added: "For all drinkers, we think there needs to be much better information so they can make informed decisions about what they are drinking.

"We'd like to see the no of units in a drink displayed on cans and bottles, so people can relate that to the recommended daily and weekly limits."

Fewer smokers

The ONS report also covers areas including such as life expectancy, cancer, smoking rates, MMR vaccinations and mortality.

Rates of smoking were also highest among young people aged 20 to 24, with 37% of men and 38% of women smoking.

Generally, more men than women smoke in each age group, apart from amongst 16 to 19 year olds, where 29% of women smoked compared to 22% of young men.

Overall the proportion of smokers has dropped since the 1970s, from around 45% in 1974 to 26% in 2002/03.

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