Am I Drinking Too Much?

Last year, a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development revealed that middle-class professional women aged 45-64 are the UK’s biggest drinkers.

Women gaining more equality in the workplace and attaining higher-paid positions is thought to be linked to the increased levels of drinking. “Women are adopting men’s drinking habits and they are not healthy,’ says Mark Pearson of the OECD.

“As women have moved into the labour market they have adapted to the male culture. Jobs where you can earn more are more likely to be jobs that have a lot networking. It’s the dark side of equality.”

Are you at risk? It’s easy to finish one or even two bottles of wine in an evening, but how does this fit into Government recommendations? Read on to find out if you’re drinking too much and ways to cut down…

DO YOU KNOW THE GUIDELINES?
The latest NHS guidelines (updated 8 January 2016) state that both men and women should not consume more than 14 units of alcohol per week, or 2 units a day. This equates to:

  • 6 pints of 4% alcohol lager
  • 6 glasses of 13% wine
  • 14 single shots (25ml) of 40% spirits

It is better to spread your drinking out evenly across the week rather than ‘save’ and binge in one night.

AM I DRINKING TOO MUCH?

Take the Alcohol Self-Assessment Test here.

HOW DOES ALCOHOL AFFECT YOUR LIVER?
The liver is the second most complex organ in the body, after our brains. It filters toxins, aids digestion, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol and fights infection and disease. When we drink a great deal, even if just for a few days, the levels of fats can build up in the liver.

This rarely causes any symptoms but is the first sign you are drinking at a harmful level. Fortunately, this is reversible and not drinking for two weeks will usually allow the liver to recover. However, prolonged heavy drinking can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, known as cirrhosis. Alcohol isn’t the only thing that can affect the liver – if you’re overweight or if you have type 2 diabetes, you’re at increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

LOOK AFTER YOUR LIVER

Have two alcohol-free days in a
row every week. One function of our liver is to flush out toxins such as
alcohol from the body, so it’s important to give it regular breaks.

GIVING UP DRINK…

A study, which will be published this
year, found a substantial improvement in the health of 102 men and
women in their 40s who gave up drinking for a month.

Professor
Moore, who co-authored the study which was partly funded by London’s
Royal Free Hospital, said that the results showed improved liver
function, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Typically the women
drank 29 units a week and the men an average of 31 units, both above
Government health guidelines.

‘That translates into a lower risk of developing diabetes and liver disease, both of which are on the increase,’ he commented.

WANT TO GIVE UP ALCOHOL?

Professor Moore has these tips:
Identify
your triggers: Perhaps it’s once the children are in bed or maybe it’s
when you sit down to watch TV -everyone has a drinking trigger. Know
what it is to break the habit.

Quash your fears: Often, we drink because it’s expected of us. Work out
whether you really want a drink. Once you get over that fear of not
drinking you can take back control.

For more tips on how to cut down on your drinking, visit drinkaware.co.uk.

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