Girls just want to have fun... without doing any lasting damage
How often do you have a drink? Maybe it's not something you think about. Life can be quite stressful and let's face it, a glass or two can seem like the perfect way to chill out. But not only is alcohol stuffed with more calories than many foods, regularly overdoing it could be doing more damage than you realise. If a chilled glass of white or a warming red is an important part of your 'me-time', you'll find these facts interesting. Why not share them with friends and family?
Women’s bodies react to alcohol in a different way to men’s. Women have on average 10% more fat than men, which means there’s less body fluid to dilute alcohol, so it travels around women’s bodies in more concentrated form and causes more harm.
Longer lasting effects
Women’s livers produce less of the substance the body uses to break alcohol down (an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase). This means not only do women get drunk quicker but the effects last longer too. Which is why the sensible drinking guidelines for women and men are different.
Alcohol and your appearance
Alcohol dehydrates the skin and depletes it of essential nutrients, making your skin appear dull and tired and your hair and nails brittle. Drinking alcohol also dilates the facial blood vessels, making you more susceptible to spidery red thread veins. Pre-existing skin conditions like Psoriasis and Rosacea are both made worse by alcohol.
What a waist of calories
Just one large glass of red wine contains around 200 calories – almost the same as four chocolate wafer fingers or a packet of crisps! (1). At 7 calories a gram, alcohol contains more calories than many foods - bad news for your waistline. Alcohol also stimulates our appetite, but reduces our self-control, so you’re more likely to give in to unhealthy snacks or late night suppers.
Alcohol calories are used first
Alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. The calories in alcohol are metabolised by the body first before it burns fat or absorbs nutrients, making us less likely to absorb essential vitamins and more prone to gain weight. Sticking to the sensible drinking guidelines can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Alcohol and breast cancer
The risk of breast cancer increases from drinking as little as 1-2 units a day (that’s one small (125ml) glass of 12% wine) In Scotland alone, 500 new cases of breast cancer each year could be linked to alcohol consumption. A recent study has shown that the risk of breast cancer increases by 7-11% for every unit drunk.(2)
The chronic liver disease rate amongst 30-44 year old women in Scotland has trebled since the mid to late 1980s. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to have a hangover to be doing damage to your liver. (3)
Alcohol lowers sperm count in men and fertility in women. A recent study by the British Medical Journal suggested that as few as five or less drinks every week would decrease a woman's chance of becoming pregnant. The best advice is, if you want to conceive, avoid alcohol completely.
Alcohol and your period
A few days before a period, and during ovulation, you’ll feel the effects of alcohol more quickly. But beware, the pill has the opposite effect, it delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and the time it takes to leave your body so you won't be as aware of the effects and might drink more than you realise.
It’s likely to take a woman longer than a man to recover from the damage caused by a big night. Taking two days off alcohol every week is a great way to give your body a break, particularly after an indulgent night.
Thinking of cutting back?
The good thing is there are some very simple steps you can take to cut back on the amount of alcohol you're drinking.
Stick to the sensible drinking guidelines and try to take at least two alcohol-free days a week to give your body a break.
You could start by checking 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?
- www.scotpho.org.uk - chronic-liver-disease key-points