Female U.S. Hispanic Immigrants at Raised Risk for Problem Drinking

Cultural norms and added stress may boost alcohol consumption, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Significant social stress and more relaxed attitudes toward drinking in the United States can help raise drinking rates among female Hispanic immigrants, a new study finds.

"The study found that Latina women who are highly acculturated to American society -- that is, women who tend to speak English more than Spanish, associated heavily with Anglos, and feel comfortable in relationships with Anglos -- tend to drink more than those who are not so highly acculturated. Specifically, these women are more likely to drink, and tend to drink more if they do drink," researcher Sarah E. Zemore, associate scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, said in a prepared statement.

Reporting in the December issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, her team looked at data on 1,586 Hispanic women and men living in the United States.

In contrast to their findings in women, the researchers found no link between acculturation and drinking among Hispanic men.

"The differences between drinking norms in Latino men's cultures of origins and drinking norms in the U.S. seem to be rather subtle," Zemore said. "Although there may be some differences between Anglos and Latinos in their drinking patterns, broadly speaking, drinking among Latino men is not discouraged as it is among Latina women. Hence, Latino men may show only minor changes, if any, in drinking attitudes and practices with increasing acculturation to the U.S."

Zemore believes the findings may also apply to other immigrant groups in the United States "who may also change their drinking habits in the process of acculturation to match the norms prevalent in the U.S."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about alcohol consumption.

SOURCE: Alcohol Research Group, news release, Dec. 14, 2005

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