Drinking like a man

Most of us enjoy a drink now and then, at home or when we get together with friends. But are you drinking more than you think? 28% of Scottish men drink 3 or more times a week1. Men drink more on average than women and unsurprisingly as a result, men suffer more ill effects.

Are a few 'well-deserved' drinks doing you damage?

You don't have to be knocking back several pints every night in the pub for alcohol to damage your health. The truth is, over half of us do our drinking at home nowadays. Those generous home measures can mean you're regularly drinking over the sensible drinking guidelines without even realising it. Here are just some of the ways alcohol can affect your overall health and wellbeing.

 

  • More than just a beer belly

    A beer belly is one of the most obvious results of drinking too much, but it’s more than just a turn-off – having a beer belly can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnoea and cancer.

  • Increased risk of stroke

    A recent study of 6,000 Scottish men found that those who drank more than 5 units a day were twice as likely to die from a stroke compared to non-drinkers. (2)

  • A handsome price to pay

    Regularly drinking more than the sensible drinking guidelines can lead to more than just putting on a bit of extra weight. Alcohol affects your circulation by expanding blood vessels. And this can cause thread veins, often on the face. If you have existing skin conditions such as Psoriasis or Rosacea, alcohol can worsen them.

  • Alcohol and your hair

    Research shows that excessive alcohol consumption can even lead to increased hair loss.

  • Alcohol and your judgement

    Having a drink might seem like a good way to relax at home or when you’re out, but you become less inhibited and less able to make good decisions the more you drink.

  • Alcohol and Domestic Abuse

    Alarmingly, alcohol is also linked to domestic abuse. Although alcohol does not cause domestic abuse it is a factor. For example, a man’s use of alcohol, particularly heavy drinking, is likely to result in more serious injury to his partner than if he is sober. For more information about domestic abuse and sources of help go to www.domesticabuse.co.uk

  • Alcohol and relationships

    One in three divorce petitions cite excessive drinking as a contributory factor.* Keep your relationship on track, if there are issues you want to talk about, pick a time when neither of you has been drinking. (3)

  • Alcohol can add to your problems

    Drinking makes feelings of depression and anxiety worse. If you’re feeling stressed and it’s getting you down, just remember that alcohol can make the problem worse. Talk to a friend or visit www.stepsforstress.org and find other ways to reduce the pressure you’re feeling.

  • Tired of drinking?

    A few too many drinks before bedtime and you might think you’re getting off to sleep quickly, but an excess of alcohol means you can go straight into deep sleep missing out the usual first stage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Instead of having typically 6-7 cycles of REM sleep you’ll only have 1-2 meaning you’ll wake up feeling tired.

  • Put a downer on your night

    Regularly drinking more than the sensible drinking guidelines can have a big effect on your fertility. Not only does it lower your sperm count, but your testosterone levels too. Not only are your chances of conception lower, but your sexual performance will suffer too. Regularly drinking too much can lead to erection problems and shrunken genitals.

Turning it aroung

The good thing is there are some very simple steps you can take to turn your drinking around.

Stick to the sensible drinking guidelines and try to take at least two alcohol-free days a week to give your body a break.

Why not check how many units you consumed last night with our unit calculator? Or, if you've been thinking of detoxing or cutting back as part of a diet, or to simply to look and feel better, why not try dropping a glass size this year?

Sources

  1. Scottish Health Survey 2010
  2. http://www.bmj.com/content/318/7200/1725
  3. Alcohol Statistics Scotland 2011
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