We sat down with CADA Chairman, Anthony Santucci to discuss the health challenges women face with alcohol.
Photo © David Foley of Foley's Fotos
As the famous saying goes, "Bermudian's love to drink," and according to The Government of Bermuda 2017 Department of National Drug Control (DNDC) National Household survey, more women consumed alcohol than men, and shorter women tend to drink stronger liquor than men. Hard to believe? There seems to be a common denominator that causes women to drink more alcohol than men, but let's take a look at Bermuda's demographic and why some women result in drinking alcohol.
52% of residents in Bermuda are females, and 69% of those residents are Bermuda-born. The legal age to drink is 18, and in 2014, the Liquor Licence Amendment Act now permits liquor and grocery stores to sell alcohol between 8 am and 9 pm. Not to mention, for every holiday and every occasion you can imagine, alcohol is readily available for women.
We also have to consider that most women have a higher level of stress and need for alcohol to cope with their hectic lifestyles. Some are working 40 to 50 hours a week and have mouths to feed, not to mention, rent or mortgage, car note, school or sports fees; the list goes on. But is drinking alcohol necessary and how does it affect women's health?
We had a chance to speak to Anthony Santucci, Chairman of CADA (Encouraging Responsible Alcohol Behavior) to understand the health challenges women will face and how alcohol affects women differently than men.
With 52% of Bermuda's population being women, do you think women have more of a responsibility to inform others of the disadvantages of alcohol abuse?
"The most recent Middle and Senior school survey shows that younger women consume more alcohol then boys and this should set off serious alarm bells. Children that start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become addicted to alcohol and other drugs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict the number of females that potentially are going to become addicts is the not too distant future. Some of the long-term health effects are the development of different types cancers and morbidity and mortality that are attributable to alcohol. This is a new study known as InterMAHP which we will share results for Bermuda in the not too distant future. Other Illnesses related to alcohol are depression, obesity, memory loss & dementia, fatty liver, stroke, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis, Pneumonia, and tuberculosis."
Here is a brief look at the different types of cancer women can receive from alcohol consumption:
- Oral cavity and pharynx cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Breast cancer
Working in CADA, what is a trend you see in alcohol abuse?
"When the system of purchasing alcohol at any time on Sundays changed in 2014, we noticed the consumption on the island went up by 400,000 liters, and it has remained consistent."
What might women be surprised to know about the effects of alcohol?
"Alcohol does not discriminate and is an equal opportunity commodity. Women tend to get drunker faster than man because they have more body fat and are generally shorter Women drink stronger liquors then man."
Is there a recommended alcohol intake limit for women?
"I’m not going to say we have a recommended daily intake for women. However, Dame Sally Davies said, "Women should consider their exposure to breast cancer every time they have a glass of wine."
What would you say are some of the myths and assumptions about drinking alcohol?
"This is a good one. The greatest myths, would be coffee. It does not sober you up. Alcohol is actually a depressant, and the only thing that can sober you up is time."
What can we do to help members of our family, the public, overcome their addiction with alcohol?
"Addiction is a chronic illness, not a character flaw," so it must be treated as such. If you recognise a family member or a friend suffering from their addition with alcohol make sure they seek help immediately. Any addition is neurologically based and should be treated as any other non-communicable disease."
As you can see, alcohol consumption is a norm and remains a stable use during challenging and celebratory times. With a cultural acceptance of alcohol, it is improbable to see a shift of change for the better. However, with this article and others willingness to inform the health challenges that occur with the use of alcohol, we can hope to see improvement in a healthier community.
For more information on CADA, visit their website.
You can find the information provided in this article from the interMAHP report, 2017 DNDC National Household Survey and the 2018/2019 New Resident Magazine.