Alcohol is metabolized by gastric alcohol dehydrogenase isozymes, but women have less of this activity than do men, researchers found.
Researcher Professor Charles Lieber, of the Bronx VA Medical Center, New York, USA, said, "For an alcoholic woman to drink alcohol, it is the same as injecting the alcohol directly into a vein."
The research showed that the female metabolism failed in the presence of high concentrations of alcohol.
Women metabolized 5% proof drinks at about the same rate as men - but were less successful at metabolizing drinks that were 10% proof or above.
|Women have less gastric alcohol dehydrogenase isozyme activity than men.
|Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research|
The research showed that one of the three components of ADH, glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase (c-ADH), was responsible for the difference.
ADH activity in both men and women decreased in the face of chronic drinking, the researchers found.
Professor Lieber said, "In alcoholic women, both effects are combined, and, as a consequence, alcoholic women totally lose their gastric protective mechanism. The blood level they achieve is the same as that obtained from the same dose of alcohol given intravenously.
"Some studies have shown that the minimal amount of alcohol necessary to produce cirrhosis in the liver in women is two to three times less than in men."
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