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July 1977

Morbidity in AlcoholicsEvidence for Accelerated Development of Physical Disease in Women

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, and Medicine, University of Toronto, and the Clinical Institute and Research Division of the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, Toronto.

Arch Intern Med. 1977;137(7):883-887. doi:10.1001/archinte.1977.03630190041012

The physical disease profiles of 135 female and 736 male inpatient alcoholics, similar in age, social class, and referral pattern, were compared to further clarify the widespread clinical impression that female alcoholics are more illness-prone. Although the women had been drinking hazardously for fewer years, at admission the prevalence of most diseases was similar in men and women. There was, however, an excess of anemia in women and of fatty liver and chronic obstructive lung disease in men. Furthermore, the average duration of hazardous drinking before the first recorded occurrence of almost all illness events was shorter in women, the sex differences being statistically significant for fatty liver, hypertension, obesity, anemia, malnutrition, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and an ulcer requiring surgery. These findings suggest that the development of physical morbidity in relation to hazardous drinking may be accelerated in women.

(Arch Intern Med 137:883-887, 1977)