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Last Updated: Monday, 11 October, 2004, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Women 'better at holding drink'
Women are 'more relaxed' after drinking than men
Some men may not want to hear this - but scientists have found women are better at holding their drink.

Kentucky University researchers found men's loss of inhibition was three times greater than women's with the same blood alcohol levels.

Writing in the journal Addiction, they said the finding might explain why men are more likely to become aggressive.

It found men appeared to become more stimulated after drinking while women became more relaxed.

There is a general supposition that women don't hold their liquor very well but our results show that it is men who become uninhibited and get a high more quickly
Dr Mark Fillimore, University of Kentucky
The researchers gave 12 men and 12 women, all classed as "social drinkers" a set amount of alcohol each.

They then tested their ability to hit a button at the right time when a symbol flashed up.

Participants had to hit a green button when a green symbol flashed up. If a blue symbol appeared, they were told not to hit anything.

People became less able to prevent themselves hitting the green key when a blue symbol appeared the more drunk they became.

But the men's performance was around three times worse than the women's.

The participants were then asked to evaluate the effect they thought alcohol had on them, rating how well certain adjectives applied to them.

Cultural differences

The men reported levels of stimulation, including aggression, confidence and loss of inhibition, which were two and a half times higher than women,

In contrast, the women reported a six times higher level of sedation than the men.

Writing in Addition, the researchers led by psychologist Dr Mark Fillimore, said: "The gender difference in response inhibition could reflect differences in alcohol-induced arousal in men and women.

"Men reported increased stimulation and women reported increased sedation in response to alcohol."

They added: "Evidence that men report greater stimulation than women could reflect a basic gender difference in the degree to which alcohol increases arousal that might also contribute to disinhibited behaviour."

The team suggested that biological and psychological differences could explain why men and women respond to alcohol differently.

"Social and cultural learning cannot be ruled out as a causal factor.

"For example, men and women differ in the types of effects that they expect from alcohol, and such expectations could influence behaviour under the drug."

Dr Fillimore added: "There is a general supposition that women don't hold their liquor very well but our results show that it is men who become uninhibited and get a high more quickly."

'More evidence needed'

Jim Orford, professor of psychology at Birmingham University, told the Sunday Times newspaper: "Women on average are entering drinking situations a bit more cautiously, whereas men have less reservation about how they are going to behave, with more expectation that they're going to get stimulated."

He added: "If men go out in order to feel stimulated - they're 'up for it' - then they're going to feel more stimulated.

"If women are going out in order to relax, then at the same blood-alcohol level they're going to feel more relaxed and sedated."

A spokeswoman for Alcohol Concern told BBC News Online: "We need to see more evidence to back these conclusions up."

Call for alcohol warning labels
15 Sep 04  |  Health
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18 Dec 03  |  Health

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