Alcohol addiction could be twice as fatal for women as it is for men, according to German research.
Doctors from the University of Greifswald Medical School studied a group of alcoholics for 14 years and found women with alcohol addiction were five times as likely to die in 14 years as the general population. Alcoholic men were twice as likely to die.
They also found alcoholics who received medical treatment and went on detox programs did not have a greater rate of survival than those who continued drinking.
The researchers studied 4070 Germans and asked them about their alcohol use. Of those, 153 were defined as alcoholics. The researchers followed up 149 of the alcoholics 14 years later.
They found a fifth of them had died in that period, which translated to a female death rate of 1.67 percent, compared with 0.36 percent of the general population, and a male death rate of 1.26 percent, compared with 0.66 percent of the general population.
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Study author Ulrich John, an epidemiologist at the University of Greifswald Medical School, said women tend to be more vulnerable to alcohol health risks.
"Females, in a more short time span, develop diseases such as liver cirrhosis," he said.
Thirty-four of the alcoholics had undergone treatment to curb their alcoholism, but their death rates were the same as those who had continued drinking.
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"The treatment system is not really suited yet to increase survival time," John said.
He also hypothesised that the sickest people were likely to seek detoxification treatments, which could explain the equal mortality rate with those who did not seek help.
The researchers are now looking to develop screening tests for alcohol problems.
The study will be published in the January issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.