A glass of wine at dinner followed by a tipple or two in front of the TV are putting middle-aged women at risk of alcohol-related illness.

Middle-aged Australian women are drinking their daughters under the dinner table, says a researcher.

But, unlike younger women, they are not drinking to get drunk.

It’s the frequency with which they drink that has Queensland researcher Hanna Watling worried – perhaps a daily glass of wine at dinner, followed by a tipple in front of the TV.

She says about 13 per cent in the 45 to 59 age group average more than two drinks a day. That’s more than younger women.

This significantly increases their risk of death from alcohol-related illness.

“As women age we see a change in their drinking patterns,” Ms Watling says.

They tend to abandon binge drinking, but drink less alcohol more frequently than any other age group.

Now Ms Watling is conducting a study to find out why.

Her preliminary findings show alcohol has becomes a greater part of everyday life as women age, “for example, having a wine with dinner or in front of the TV”.

Alcohol also becomes a way of dealing with the stresses of a busy life, family worries, work pressures or social commitments, says Ms Watling of the Queensland University of Technology.

“What we are concerned about is that those women, who drink moderately but often, may end up consuming a larger volume of alcohol than those who drink heavily but less frequently.”

This puts them at risk of a long-term problems such as liver and heart diseases, high blood pressure and increased risk of cancer.