Smoking and drinking?they go together and they’re both worse for women.

When it comes to alcohol, the dividing line between a little and a lot depends on many things, including sex. Women are more vulnerable than men to alcohol?s long-term effects. Exposure to smoke more quickly leads to cancer in women as well.

Women break down alcohol more slowly than men do. If a woman and a man drink identical glasses of wine with the same meal, she will have a higher blood level of alcohol, and for a longer time. This means her tissues are exposed to more alcohol per drink than a man’s.

The more alcohol a person drinks, the smaller his or her total brain volume. Brain volume decreases with age at an estimated rate of about 2% per decade. Although men are more likely to drink alcohol, the association between drinking and brain volume is stronger in women!

And while smoking poses a health threat to both men and women, women require less tobacco exposure than men to have a significant increased risk for several types of cancer (not just lung cancer). A new study suggests that nicotine plays a possible role in breast cancer.

Could an aversion to bitter substances help protect some people from becoming addicted to nicotine? Researchers report that two interacting genes related to bitter taste sensitivity play an important role in a person?s development of nicotine dependence and smoking behavior. People with higher taste sensitivity aren’t as likely to become dependant on nicotine as people with decreased taste sensitivity. Researcher Ming Li says, “This new knowledge is an important tool in predicting whether a person is likely to become a smoker or not.”

So women, watch out!

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