Friday, March 30, 2007

Food preferences: Boys vs. Girls

surveyed British schoolchildren on foods they had tried, and found that trying more foods did not significantly change the percentage disliked. In general, girls liked fruits and vegetables more than boys did, whereas boys liked meats, processed meats, and eggs more than girls did. Both groups liked fatty and sugary foods, but the boys preferences for these foods were stronger. found a relationship between a liking for sour taste and fruit consumption for boys, but not for girls. On the other hand found that girls were more likely than boys to snack on "forbidden foods" (restricted snack foods), even when they were not hungry. on the genetics of obesity suggests that food preferences may be more heritable in males, but that childhood environmental factors may have a stronger effect on females' eating habits.

One thing I am entirely grateful to my mother for was that she never really forced me to eat unpleasant foods. As a child, I always had the option of spitting out foods I disliked, and turning down foods I wasn't interested in trying. However, the restrictions on sugary foods (especially breakfast cereals) were fairly strong in my household. So, when I went to college, I gorged myself of Lucky Charms in the dining hall for 9 months. Were there any "forbidden foods" that you overindulged in?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sports fandom

Several tools have been developed to tap into the psyche of sports fans. While both men and women do attend and watch sporting events, some differences have emerged. , using the Sports Spectator Identification scale (SSI), found no significant differences between male and female college students on whether they self-identified as a sports fan, but did find differences in how important this was to their identity. Men also scored higher on general sports knowledge than women. used the Sports Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS) on a random telephone book sample, and did find that men tended to score higher than women on that scale. Both studies concluded that women's reasons for following sports were more social (e.g. family tradition, going to games with friends) whereas men enjoyed acquiring sports knowledge and are more likely to play or have played sports themselves. used the Motivation Scale for Sports Consumption (MSSC) on a sample collected from attendees of college basketball games, finding that while both men and women identified themselves as sports fans (unsurprisingly, given the sample), men were more likely to be interested in sport in general whereas women were more strongly identified with a particular team.

I was expecting to find that men were bigger sports fans than women when I set out on today's research, and I'm pleased to see that I only got partial confirmation of that bias. One common thread in all three of today's articles was the importance of sports awareness to the male identity. I suggest that this may be due to lack of other socially acceptable identity. Sports is a "safe" route for empathy and community feeling for men. Since people have started seeing me as male on a daily basis, I find that I am much more expected to be aware of, and knowledgable about, sports, which has led to quite a bit of I've had to start reading the sports page out of self-defense.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Going Solo part 2

several articles I missed yesterday on masturbation. All studies seem to uphold the hypothesis that men are more likely to masturbate than women. Their results, in order of publication date:
  • found in a U.S. sample that nearly twice as many men as women admitted to masturbation, but found this had no effect on later sexual development.
  • used a Canadian sample of Asian vs. non-Asian students, and found a 80% to 48% difference between genders in the entire sample, although Asians of both sexes were significantly less likely to report ever masturbating.
  • reported 62% to 36% in a sample of Swedish high school seniors.
  • reported 56.5% to 24.4% in Hong Kong young adults.
  • Danish study also confirmed this sex difference, tying it to pornography exposure and use.
  • studied Swedish adults of various ages, and reported masturbation frequency during the past month, at a mean of 4.9 for men and 1.6 for women. 65% of men vs. 39% of women reported masturbating within the last month at all.
  • reported a 73% to 36.8% difference for masturbation within the past 4 weeks in a British sample.

These results seem to point to some cultural differences, in addition to the sex differences, which appear to be consistently robust.

Although I would have liked to see more control and discussion of reporting differences, the result that men are more likely to masturbate than women is not surprising. One result that I did find surprising was the incidence of masturbating to orgasm, reported in Larson and Svedin's Swedish sample. 71% of the boys vs. 64% of the girls who reported masturbating had reached orgasm during the activity. This difference is a lot smaller than I would have expected, and I wonder if some of the women are "not counting" masturbation that doesn't reach orgasm. However, this is purely speculation, and I don't have any data to back it up. For what it's worth, my personal experience also confirms the "men masturbate more" theory. After taking testosterone, masturbation was a lot easier, and a LOT more frequent.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Going Solo part 2

of 177 studies on human sexuality found the largest gender difference in incidence of masturbation, which was a variable in 26 of the studies examined, and was defined as "any experience with masturbation." Janet Hyde, you may recall, is the author of "The Gender Similarities Hypothesis". Oliver and Hyde also report that gender differences narrowed from the 1960's to the 1980's. tested the effect of social expectations on self-report of sexual activity, and found the largest effect of social expectations on masturbation and use of erotica.

According to the book , anxiety over masturbation is a fairly recent invention. Laqueur traces the history of "onanism" as an illness to 1708. attempt an analysis of current trends in the conceptualization of human sexuality, but sadly, the studies they found on masturbation attitudes and incidence seem to end in the 1970's.

Where the hell are the current studies on masturbation? It seems like it's a subject I discuss at least once per week with my friends. Every recent study I was able to find focused on such narrow populations (e.g. Attitudes of hospital staff to masturbation by disabled adults, ) that they really couldn't be applied to the general population. This seems to be a major hole in the data, and someone needs to massage it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Age and Muscle

found that the types of muscle fibers that develop as a result of strength training differ by sex and age. Specifically Type IIx fibers (fast-twitch) developed less in young women and older men than in young men and older women. found that proportional muscle mass decrease with age was nearly twice as fast in men as in women. found no gender differences in muscle fatigue rates, although they did find differences in the metabolic mechanisms of muscle fatigue. found some evidence that women's inspiratory (breathing) muscles fatigue more slowly than men's.

Today's article remind me of how I've often heard the strength of grandmothers discussed. I can't find the quote now, but I'm remembering something describing old women as being like ants, being able to carry several times their own weight. Obviously this was meant as poetic license, but it's still a powerful image. If Gallagher's findings are correct, it may not be that these women are so much stronger than they were than they were young, but just that their capabilities are better preserved.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Viewing erotic stimuli

tested the effect of "invisible" erotic pictures on the attention of gay/bisexual and heterosexual males and females. After comparing attraction/repulsion to male or female erotic stumuli, Jiang et al found that while gay men responded like heterosexual women to the suppressed images, gay/bisexual women responded in between this group and the heterosexual men. found that both men and women focused less on faces and more on bodies in response to normally presented erotic (vs. non-erotic) stimuli, and the results suggested that women's attentional patterns may be more affected than men's by the erotica context. However, Lykins et al point out that because their study showed different pictures to the male and female groups (heterosexually delineated) comparison between groups is not valid.

Neither of these studies report the menstrual cycle stage of female participants, which may be an issue. studied fMRI results of 25 women during mid-luteal phase (post ovulation) and during menses. Self-reported arousal in women was similar to men's at the mid-luteal test, but significantly lower at menses. Some activation differences between mid-luteal and menstrual phases were reported (e.g. reduced in the left thalamus at menses). However, between-sex differences were more robust than menstrual phase differences.

One big concern I have with studies using "erotic stimuli" is the source of the images. Lykins et al wrote that they got their images of females from Playboy's website, and images of males from Falcon Studio's website. Both of these websites design their erotic content for men. Unfortunately, I can't think of any source for erotic images of men by women that would match Playboy on production values. Obviously, more women-driven erotica needs to be produced, in the name of science!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Color vision

Differences between trichromacy, dichromacy,
and monochromacy. From
website at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
In humans, color blindness is much more common in males than females (7% vs. 0.4%, according to ). suggest that there may be some women who are tetrachromats: they may see in four wavelengths, instead of the three that most humans get. Color vision is dependent on in the eye, and the expression of cone cells seems to be programmed on the X-chromosome. "Searching for Madam Tetrachromat" goes further into why tetrachromacy is only expected in women.

An extra color channel in females is hardly unheard of. found that most squirrel monkeys are dichromats (2 colors). The only squirrel monkeys that were trichromats (3 colors) were some of the females. suggests that this is evolutionarily related to the brightly colored markings on some male new world monkeys -- the females can distinguish them, but their male competitors can not.

I think everyone can find something to be excited about in tetrachromacy. My partner suggested titling today's piece "D00d! Chicks be stealin' yer conez!" and then started babbling about how great a "hidden roles" game you could make out of color blindness. What I find interesting about it is the fact that most of what women tell me that they're better than men at is perception -- they see more. Tetrachromacy, however rare, may be a case where this is literally true.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sleepiness after sex

There are many popular answers on male sleepiness after sex, most of which focus on exertion and relaxation. on iVillage, on AssociatedContent, and even the book (Leyner and Goldberg, 2006)*. However, scientific publications on the subject appear to be sparse. found no differences between sleep patterns after orgasm or two control conditions for either men or women.

points out column "Why do guys get sleepy after sex?" which suggests the pituitary hormones prolactin, oxytocin, and vasopressin may be the key. Wenner references, for example, findings that prolactin release is 4 times greater after intercourse than masturbation. However, while prolactin levels increase during sleep (), it hasn't been linked to increased sleepiness in healthy humans. Wenner suggests that prolactin-excreting tumors may cause sleepiness, but the do not list sleepiness as a symptom of prolactinomas. dosed subjects with oxytocin and no change in wakefulness was reported. Similarly, did not find any change in wakefulness with vasopressin administration to male subjects.

Honestly, I think a more interesting question is "Why don't women get sleepy after sex?" I haven't observed additional sleepiness in men after morning sex. I also didn't find any studies demonstrating that men actually were sleepy after sex, or that women weren't. I'm not saying that this isn't the case, but I'd be extremely grateful to anyone who could find such a study.

*Bonus: : interview with Leyner and Goldberg, authors of Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?, on their title topic. They blame the muscle mass.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Did you hear?

As early as , it has been documented that women tend to have more sensitive hearing than men, and have less variability in hearing sensitivity than men do. notes that not only are women more sensitive to noise, but that they also have stronger (sounds produced by the inner ear, and a measure of ear health). McFadden suggests that the differences may be due to hormonal effects, based on twin studies (pre-natally) and menstrual cycle studies (post-natally).

Here's where McFadden gets very interesting. examined differences EAOEs between heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals (both male and female). McFadden found that homosexual and bisexual women's EAOEs fell in between heterosexual women's and heterosexual men's. Bisexual and homosexual men did not show any significant difference from heterosexual men. McFadden feels that this suggests hormonal -- and possibly structural brain -- differences between homosexual and heterosexual women.

Well, I obviously can't offer any personal experience on this one. I didn't even know you could make your ears make noise, so I haven't gone around clicking into people's ears. I believe that
McFadden found the results he reported, but his extrapolation seems a little enthusiastic. I was particularly interested in this study because it's the first one I've seen using women as the comparison group in a heterosexual/homosexual group. I have read so many arguments suggesting that women's sexuality is largely socially based (e.g. ) that these findings struck me as unusual.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Jealousy: experience, emotion, and evolution

Both current and previous romantic relationships may have serious effects on a person's reactions to infidelity. confirmed previous research that showed that men tended to be more jealous over sexual infidelity while women tended to be more jealous over emotional infidelity (see ) but also found that within-sex, men who had been in serious, committed romantic relationships tended to be more upset about infidelity than men who had never had this experience. suggests that jealousy arises from partner uncertainty, and specifically, that uncertainly precedes jealousy.

The reasoning behind current thought on reactions to infidelity is an evolutionary one (see ). Women are thought to be more affected by emotional infidelity because it may result in a loss of resources, while men are more affected by sexual infidelity because it may result in a failure to pass on their genes.

These models of jealousy are not mutually exclusive. Personal jealousy may start with doubt, regardless of the species origins of the reaction. It may even be a reaction to doubt. The evolutionary argument is that jealousy is a useful response in terms of passing on genes. Does that mean that the response is of necessity hard-wired and unavoidable? It certainly feels that way when it hits. Women have told me that the revelation of infidelity is "world-destroying", and crushes their self-esteem. The men I have known respond with more externalized hatred, devaluing their partner for their failure. This is consistent with men=externalizing/women=internalizing models of behavior.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hot headed

performed an amusing experiment in which they determined anger expression by allowing subjects to give hot sauce to an imaginary rater who had given them randomly assigned positive or negative feedback on an essay. Negative ratings called the subjects "naive" and "immature." Evers et al found that men and women experienced anger similarly in response to the ratings of their essays, and there was no difference in the amount of hot sauce they gave the imaginary rater when they did not expect to meet them. When told they would eventually meet the rater, women "punished" the rater less than men did. In general, however, men gave more hot sauce to the rater regardless of how well their essays had been rated or whether or not they expected to meet them.

suggests that sex differences in anger and aggression have both sociological and biological bases. However, found no sex differences in anger emotions in his meta-analysis, and found that differences in direct vs. indirect aggression (women are commonly thought to favor indirect aggression) were limited to childhood and adolescence.

When I started taking testosterone shots to transition from female to male, I was warned against "'roid rage." There's a common belief that testosterone subjects the taker to intense bouts of temper. I will admit that the experience of anger does seem to have changed since my transition, but so have most other emotional responses. My hormonal shifts in response to outside stimuli feel insignificant compared to my medical intervention: a bad day at work has less effect than being late on a shot. However, anger is a more comfortable reaction than it was in my life before testosterone. Anger used to feel like being out of control; now it feels like a more controllable response than fear.

Also, welcome to all the new readers who found Difference Blog yesterday!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Measuring desire

from : Hypothesized
differences in male and female sexual interest.
Quantifying sex drive and desire is a complicated process. lists and evaluates over 200 tools for measuring sexual factors. Sexual Arousal and Desire Inventory (SADI) is one attempt to put the complicated construct of desire into usable numbers. Toledano and Pfaus did not find gender differences on "physiological and motivational factors" but found that women were more likely to find the descriptors used "aversive". document the difficulty in pinning down factors with any kind of reliability. Spector et al's Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI) hypothesizes two factors of desire: "dyadic" and "solitary." No gender differences are reported. suggest that separate male and female scales are necessary in their development of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI).

There are obviously social/cultural factors at work in the sexuality of both men and women. One thing that made adjustment for me very difficult when I was trying to be a "normal" woman (before I made the decision to transition from female to male) was my complete lack of understanding of the social double standard about men's and women's sexuality. I didn't understand why my behavior, which didn't seem to me to be any different than that of the men I spent time with, made me a bit of a pariah in certain circles. The social distinction between "slut" and "stud" was lost on me. I still don't really understand it, personally, but at least now I am aware that it exists.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

You make me laugh

Blogger wrote yesterday about gender differences in laughing behaviors. Although we've discussed the concept of a "sense of humor" before (see and ), Willett points out that the laugh/funny relationship is hardly a 1-to-1 correlation. Willett discusses 's findings, probably referring to Provine's book: . Provine's observations originally appeared in the journal Ethology ().
According to Provine, all speakers laugh more than their listeners, but there are differences by gender. A woman speaking to a female audience laughs about 70 percent more often than her listeners. When she speaks to men, she laughs more than twice as often as her listeners. But when a man speaks to a male audience, he only laughs about 20 percent more than his listeners--and when he speaks to women they actually laugh a little more than he does.

I participate in diversity panel discussions about twice per year, and I always make a point to get laughter. I have always had a desire to "get a laugh" when doing public speaking, even in small groups, but when discussing individual differences, it seems especially important to me. However different I may be from my audience, I feel like if I can make them laugh, I've touched on something that they understand and is meaningful to them, but in a way they can handle and take away for later. If art is an aesthetic, comedy is an anaesthetic. Some things are too painful to think about all at once; you gotta laugh.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Histamines and Hormones

found that lower income, living in the country, and being female were all factors contributing to reduced quality of life during pollen season for people with seasonal allergies. reported that as young children (ages 6-7) boys were more likely to be diagnosed with hay fever, but by the teen years (13-14) girls had higher rates of hay fever. Wieringa et al suggest that this may be due to underreporting of symptoms by teen boys.

However, there's another factor that may influence the girls' experience of seasonal allergies. Hormones seem to play a role in many kinds of respiratory function, according to , but have largely gone unstudied. Becklake and Kauffmann suggest there may be increased allergen sensitivity during some points in the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. found that hormone levels during pregnancy increased histamine reactions, leading to more severe allergy symptoms.

This may be the first time I've set out to cover something else and found an unexpected hormonal tie-in. It's tempting to use this as an explanation for my own experience with allergies. I never had any problem with seasonal allergies until I was 16 -- about a year after starting menses. The fact that I moved from a rural single-family home to an urban dormitory probably had more effect: point out that urban dwellers have higher prevalence of allergies, although whether this is a confound of pollution, socio-economic status, or reporting artifact is unclear.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Beliefs about health risks

found gender differences in beliefs about the causes of "AIDS, the common cold, diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer, and headaches." Women were far more likely to attribute these ailments to "Sin and Sex and as a form of punishment." On the other hand, , in what they referred to as the "white male effect", found that men tend to have a lower perception of personal risk than women on multiple assessments, including risk of illness. Interestingly, a survey by found that each sex thought risks of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses were higher for their own sex than for the opposite one.

The MacIntyre et al paper, in particular, addresses the pattern noted in many self-report surveys of optimism or desirability of results. Often people will answer that they take better than average care of themselves, or that they are better than average drivers, for example. McIntyre et al found it notable that both sexes felt they were at greater risk, since this seemed to be in conflict with that pattern. I see no such conflict. I think that most people feel they have enormous challenges to meet. This makes even their most mundane accomplishments (such as "not dying") into acts of heroism.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Sleep disorders in adults and children

found rates of insomnia in an elderly (over 65) population were twice as high in women as in men. Differences in mental disorders partially explained this difference; women were also more likely to be depressed. found that prevalence of sleep complaints were 63% higher in women, and for "severe insomnia" the rate was twice as high in women for all adults (12% vs. 6.3%).

In children, points out that sleep disorders "bear little resemblance to the insomnia of a mature adult." Sleep apneas are more common in male adults, but equally common in boys and girls. reports that leg restlessness is more common in girls, while bed-wetting and sleep-talking are more common in boys.

I'm not sure if being a chronic kicker counts as leg restlessness (I suspect it doesn't) but I do almost everything that someone can do to make sleeping next to them unpleasant. I steal the blankets, I kick, I snore, I talk, and I have even been known to sing. In general, however, I've always had an easier time falling asleep than the people I sleep next to, regardless of gender. I have always attributed this to my interference in their sleep patterns. It's hard to fall asleep with a mumbled rendition of "Take On Me" happening under the blankets you wish you had.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Alcohol and Inhibition

found that men lost inhibitions more quickly than women under the influence of the same amount of alcohol (adjusted for weight, and matched by blood alcohol content) in a cued go/no-go task. A story about the study explains: "men's loss of inhibition was three times greater than women's with the same blood alcohol levels." The authors feel this may explain increased aggression in men under the influenced of alcohol; they are less able to control their reactions. found that individual differences, not sex differences, predicted how well people were able to compensate when they expected to be impaired.

Fillmore's results seem to be contradictory to earlier findings by who found no effect of gender on a "go-stop" task meant to test response inhibition. also did not find a gender interaction with alcohol-reduced inhibition on a .

It's been suggested on more than one occasion that my inhibitions don't particularly need lowering. I've known people who use alcohol to lower their inhibitions on purpose, and the concept of "liquid courage" bothers me. is credited with saying "Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." It seems like good advice to me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How meaningful are neural correlates?

points out that functional and structural differences between male and female brains may not always point to behavioral differences. One interesting example of this is study which found no sex difference in mental rotation tasks on either response time or accuracy, but did find differences in neural correlates: "males showed predominantly parietal activation, while the females, in addition, showed inferior frontal activation." In contrast, there is study. Halari et al found stereotypical differences in performance (men performed better on spatial rotation, and women on verbal fluency), but "no [brain activation] areas significantly differentiated the two sexes."

These cases demonstrate the difficulty of translating neuroimaging results to behavioral patterns. One issue may be the sample sizes. Hughdahl et al had 11 subjects; Halari et al had 19. The tasks may have also differed slightly. It has been suggested that the verbal advantage of women is of greater magnitude than the spatial advantage of men, but that does not fully explain the difference in these studies. Personally, I suspect that the group of people who volunteer for fMRI studies may not be a fully representative sample of humanity.

[edit: please see for a fuller explanation of things that went wrong in Hughdahl. He's sort of my resident go-to guy for fMRI, and he caught a lot of stuff I should have.]

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Multitasking: says who? [post #150!]

, in a follow-up column originally written for the Wall Street Journal, calls multitasking "the next battlefront in the Gender Wars." Responses to her original column, consistently brought up the perceived differences between men and women in the ability to multitask. column, originally in the LA Times, notes that "female superiority in this realm is an article of faith." Unfortunately, it does not appear any solid research has been done to test this theory. quotes psychologist : "the two sexes typically come out about the same, on average."

I've spent a couple of days looking for any research on gender differences in multitasking, and the closest I've found are two from Missouri Western (2006), and a transcript of a where he says he did not find any significant gender differences, probably referring to , which reports no results on this axis.

I feel very lax in having let this issue lie for so long. Today is the 150th post of Difference Blog, and I've never used the word "multitasking" in any post prior to this one. Yet I'm sure I've drawn on the stereotype at some point. I can't remember when; I must have been doing too many things at once.

However, I'll multitask in this post by asking you to tell your friends about Difference Blog if you've been enjoying it -- or complain to them if you hate it!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Car Insurance

reports that Carina Bladh (Linköping, Sweden) was outraged to discover that her car insurance premium jumped up when her official sex changed from female to male. After her complaint, the insurer decided to lower her premium back to its prior level. According to , in the U.S., gender only figures into insurance rates for drivers under 25, where men pay more.

As discussed in , men have been involved in more accidents than women over the history of automobile driving. repeats the frequently-stated suggestion that because testosterone is linked to aggression, and aggressive driving is linked to accidents, testosterone must be a contributing factor to frequency of traffic accidents. However, I've been unable to find any studies that actually connect testosterone levels to differences in driving behavior.

I used to joke that I didn't transition until I was 25 because I didn't want my car insurance to go up. I've driven so much less since my transition that it's very hard for me to judge if my driving habits have changed. Just prior to transition, I had a job that required a 40 minute commute by car each way. Since transition, my only job has been easily accessible on public transportation, so I only drive about once a week, if that. I am not at all convinced that aggressive driving and other measures of aggression are similar enough to draw the kinds of conclusions that seem to be common in this research. It seems that aggressive driving is far more focused on the self vs. a system (e.g. "I need to get ahead of this traffic") whereas other types of aggression are more focused on the self vs. a specific other (e.g. "This guy spilled his drink on me").

Friday, March 2, 2007

Very superstitious

found that women had higher belief in the paranormal than men when other factors were not controlled. While Orenstein did find that conventional religious belief appeared to correlate with paranormal belief, an inverse relationship was found with church attendance in both men and women. As we've previously noted, women are usually found to be more religious (see "Differences in Religiosity" pts and ). found that women tended to espouse both positive (lucky) and negative (unlucky) superstitious beliefs at a higher rate than men.

However, there may be a non-linear confound of education that is not being taken into account. found that junior college psychology courses tended to increase acceptance of psychological myths (e.g. "people use only 10% of their brains"), while university courses tended to decrease acceptance.

One thing that I didn't see noted in any of the studies was "fun." The two most superstitious groups I've ever encountered are theatre geeks and athletes. I suspect there is an interaction between group participation and superstition, because superstitions aren't nearly as much fun when other people don't share them. In low-risk situations, pretending that bad things might happen is fun, especially when you also pretend that you have control over them.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Depression and drinking

, a researcher at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (), has done of research into gender differences in alcohol abuse. This week, released results from a phone survey of over 14,000 Canadians about their use of alcohol and antidepressants. They found that while both depressed men and women drank more than their non-depressed counterparts, depressed men on anti-depressants did not drink significantly more than non-depressed women. This relationship was not true for depressed women. Based on the same survey, found interesting patterns in the relationship between alcohol dependency and depression, suggesting that the mode of measuring each may explain many of the inconsistencies on literature on this subject.

Like previous studies we've looked at on alcohol use (see Girl Drinks, 10/3/06), Graham's study found large differences in the use of alcohol by men and women in general. For example, the greatest-drinking group of women (depressed women on anti-depressants) had on average 264 drinks per year, in comparison to the least-drinking group of men (depressed men on anti-depressants) who had 414. The defines moderate drinking as 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, which is well within the range of the results of the survey. According to the , the average consumption in the U.S. is about 428 drinks/year for men, and 193 drinks/year for women (these figures estimated from drinks/day of drinking and days drinking/month figures - no per annum figures given).

I have a personal rule that's served me well over the years. If I feel like I "need" a drink, I don't have one. Alcohol (for me, anyway) is a mood intensifier, not a mood enhancer. It's also very hard for me to keep the concept of "fairness" out of drinking once I start. It's not "fair" that I can't drink as long or as much as my friends (who tend to weigh 30-50 pounds more than I do). While my muscle mass has increased on testosterone, my alcohol tolerance hasn't, and my competitive streak seems to have gotten worse, so it's something I need to be aware of.