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Older Women Now More Likely To Drink At Risky Levels Than The Young

Older women are more likely to drink a risky amount of alcohol than younger women as long as they come across as being 'in control', new research has found. 

The study of Australian and Danish women aged 50 to 70 found those who drink more than what is recommended think their habits are normal, if they're behaving respectably.

According to one 59-year-old respondent, "that's just something we do".

"It has become part of the norm ... it is something we do with our acquaintances, friends and families," the woman said.

Women aged 50–70 are more likely than younger women to consume alcohol at levels that exceed low risk drinking guidelines. Image: Getty

The study into the social attitudes and drinking habits of 49 women was a collaboration between Perth's Edith Cowan University (ECU) and Denmark's Aalborg University.

ECU's Dr Julie Dare said while drinking rates among younger women in Australia have dropped, the proportion of older women drinking at levels exceeding national recommended guidelines has increased.

“Health messaging of no more than two standard drinks per day and no more than four standard drinks on any single drinking occasion didn’t seem to be relevant to women in this age group," Dare said.

"There was a fair percentage drinking over that."

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Dare said similar trends are happening in Denmark along with the United Kingdom.

The findings showed women from both countries considered drinking among their age group to be normal and acceptable.

But Dare said "staying in control" was an important factor.

"As long as they (women) don’t make a fool of themselves, they don’t want to go falling down and showing their knickers," a 69-year-old respondent said.

The study found surveyed Australian women believed it was acceptable to drink to deal with stress.

The study found Australian women believed it was acceptable to drink to deal with stress. Image: Getty

"They were quite open about this saying ‘I just had a bad day, I needed to have a drink’,” Dare said, adding Danish women felt differently.

The researchers are concerned women are placing more importance on social pleasure and appearing to be in control than the potential health risks of drinking.

They called on adjusting health advice and interventions to consider how women in this age group may socially construct their drinking practices.