By Clare Jones |

It’s summertime, ladies! Time for cookouts, pool time, and relaxing with friends after another busy school year. While many social events like these involve alcohol, considering whether or not to drink is an important decision. What may seem like harmless summer fun can have an impact that lasts way beyond Labor Day.

What risks are women more prone to?

Even in small amounts, alcohol affects women differently than men. In some ways, heavy drinking brings much more risk to women than to men. Drinking makes young women more vulnerable to sexual assault and unsafe, unplanned sex, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).  Heavy drinking also can increase risk for high blood pressure, stroke, certain types of cancer, violence, and suicide.

What can we women do?

If you are over 21, what can you do to lower your risks when drinking? For us women, a good guideline is sticking to one drink per occasion and no more than seven drinks per week.

Keep in mind that “low risk” is not “no risk.” It’s safest to avoid alcohol altogether if you are:

  • underage
  • taking medications that interact with alcohol
  • managing a medical condition that can be made worse by drinking
  • planning to drive a vehicle or operate machinery
  • pregnant or trying to become pregnant

(http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov).

Be ready to say “no thanks” to drink #2 or more.

While this may be a serious topic, a little humor can go a long way. Want some goofy excuses for saying “no thanks” when you are out with friends? Check out the “100 Best Ways to Say No.”  Use a joke, say no with confidence, or pass on a party that you know will put you in an uncomfortable situation. Whichever method you choose, decide to use low risk drinking guidelines–then stick to it!

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