Educated women binge drink in their 20s, but curb their habits by their 40s.
But the reverse is true of women with little education, whose binge drinking is more likely to take off in their 40s, shows research conducted by Dr Barbara Jefferis and colleagues from England.
The researchers found that the prevalence of binge drinking remains substantial into adulthood.
The research team identified that 31% of men and 14% of women were binge drinking at 42 years.
The findings were based on a representative cohort of more than 11,500 British men and women, all of whom were born during the same month and week in 1958.
|Highly qualified women were 33% more likely to binge drink at the age of 23|
|Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health|
The subjects were monitored throughout childhood and into adulthood.
The subjects were surveyed about how much and how often they drank alcohol at the ages of 23, 33, and 42.
Binge drinking was classified as 10 or more units of alcohol in a single sitting for men, and 7 or more for women.
The team observed that among men, the prevalence of binge drinking fell from 36% at the age of 23 to 31% by the age of 42.
The researchers found that among women, the equivalent figures were 18% and 14%.
Less educated men were significantly more likely to be binge drinkers at all ages, with little change across the decades.
However, the researchers did not find the same trend in women.
The team showed that highly qualified women were about 33% more likely than women with no or few qualifications to binge drink at the age of 23.
By the time women reached their 40s, it was the less educated women who were significantly more likely to be the binge drinkers.
In addition, the researchers noted that binge drinking in educated women in their 40s was less common.
Dr Jefferis' team concludes, “Women with no or few qualifications were about 3 times as likely as their highly qualified peers to be binge drinking by the age of 42.”