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Why do men and women process alcohol differently?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2018 | Blog

Because of the danger a drunk driver creates on the roadways, law enforcement takes drinking and driving seriously. No one should ever drive while impaired. However, many people are unaware that they have a blood alcohol concentration higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Part of this is due to how different people’s bodies process alcohol differently. For example, alcohol seems to have a greater impact on women than men by and large. This means a woman can drink the same volume of alcohol as a man and be over the 0.08 percent limit while the man is still under. 

Metabolizing alcohol

According to research, women tend to have a lower concentration of an enzyme called dehydrogenase in their bodies. This enzyme is responsible for metabolizing alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream. As a result, women tend to process alcohol at a slower rate than men. 

Diluting alcohol

Additionally, women tend to have a less water content in their bodies compared with men. For men, water concentration is at about 61 percent. For women, that volume is only at around 52 percent. With less water in the body to dilute alcohol, women cannot process alcohol as fast. 

More body fat

Women have higher concentrations of body fat than men. The biological reason for this is that women may need to nourish a fetus at some point, so extra body fat makes it easier to carry the fetus to term. Fat is unable to store alcohol. Therefore, alcohol has nowhere else to go in the body other than the bloodstream. This is why women may feel the effects of intoxication faster than men who have drank less. 

Regardless of gender, a person who drinks alcohol and gets behind the wheel is at risk of a DUI charge or worse. After an arrest, it is a good idea to speak to an attorney right away. 


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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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