A physician shared why any amount of alcohol consumption is riskier for women than it is for men in a viral video.
In a TikTok posted last week, Samia Hurst, a physician bioethicist at the University of Geneva, says that consuming alcohol is much more dangerous for women than it is for men because of the differences in how each body metabolizes it.
“Even if [a woman consumes] the same amount [as a man] as calculated by your body weight… [women] still have about six times the risk of developing liver cirrhosis [as] a guy would have,” Hurst says in her TikTok. Cirrhosis means scarring and permanent damage of the liver. “Completely unfair, I know.”
Hurst says she’s heard stories of women who merely drank socially or casually who—unknown to them—were in need of liver transplants and their health was in “severe danger.” She recommends women not drink more than four drinks per week.
“This does not mean you have to follow the advice that I’m giving you,” Hurst says. “But I just find it so sad that so many people take risks of this magnitude with their health without knowing that they’re doing it.”
On Thursday, Hurst’s video had over 2 million views on TikTok.
@samiahurstmajno #women #alcohol and the #gender aspects of #drinking is a huge chapter. You should absolutely also watch @hope_peddler ♬ original sound – Samia Hurst – doctor ethicist
Hurst isn’t wrong: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that “biological differences in body structure and chemistry lead most women to absorb more alcohol and take longer to metabolize it,” and women have a higher risk of liver disease, cancer, and impacts on their brains and hearts from alcohol.
This is because the female body composition has more fatty tissue but less water and alcohol-processing enzymes than their male counterparts, as reported by National Geographic.
Plus, “women who drink develop a greater number of medical problems, and at much lower alcohol levels, than men,” reports NatGeo. The U.S. National Institutes of Health also reported that women have been more likely to be hospitalized and die from alcohol-related health complications over the last 20 years.
Drinking is very common—almost half of all adult women in the U.S. reported to the CDC that they’d consumed alcohol in the last month and a 2019 study found that women in their 30s and 40s drink more than men in their age groups. And, heavy drinking in women has been normalized, thanks to tropes like the “wine mom.”
Because of this, many commenters felt stressed out by Hurst’s TikTok. In response to an anxiety-ridden comment, Hurst made a follow-up video further explaining whether or not health risks are worth taking.
“This is not a question with an objective answer,” Hurst says. She emphasizes that the risks we take with our own health are personal choices. “Although you will take a risk with your health whatever the alcohol you drink, this is a risk you’re allowed to take—it’s up to you, basically.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Hurst via email.