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Study: More women execs turn to drink

Researchers are unable to explain why women are apparently turning to drink.

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LONDON, England -- Top women executives are taking on their male rivals in the bar as well as the boardroom, according to new research.

A study found that high-flying women were more likely to have a drink problem than their male peers.

Women at the top were three times more likely to be alcohol dependent than those in the lowest-grade jobs.

But men's vulnerability to drinking did not alter as they climbed up the career ladder.

Jenny Head, from University College London, who led the study, said: "We haven't been able to find an explanation for the higher rate of problem drinking in senior female executives.

"One possible reason might be that it's the stress of working against a glass ceiling.

"Maybe also women in higher grades are operating in a bit of a man's world, and perhaps feel they need to adopt some male roles. But this is just speculation."

The findings, reported in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, are based on questionnaire responses from about 8,000 civil servants working in 20 different departments in London.

Two-thirds of those taking part in the study were men.

Participants were asked about the demands of their job, levels of support at work and at home and the degree to which they could make and influence decisions.

They were questioned about the amount of effort they made and the rewards they received in terms of promotional prospects.

A recognized set of questions relating to attitudes and behavior was used to determine those who had a drink problem.

Between 10 percent and 12 percent of men interviewed were found to be alcohol dependent, no matter what kind of job they did.

Among women, 4 percent of those working in the lowest clerical grades had a drink problem, compared with 14 percent of senior executives.

Surveys have shown a clear increase in the number of British women drinking above "sensible limits" over the past 12 years.

The proportion had risen from 10 percent in the early 1990s to about 17 percent in 2000.

Under Department of Health guidelines, a "sensible" level of drinking for women is no more than two to three units of alcohol a day, equivalent to two or three glasses of wine.

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