Alcohol is the go-to beverage for social occasions and celebrations. It can lighten up the mood and ease social anxieties to let you indulge in the moment. Outside social gathering, most people like to wind down after hard day’s work with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. No problem with that.
In moderate consumptions, alcohol may help you live longer. The recommended daily alcohol limits is 4 units for men and 3 units for women. If you are a regular drinker, or rather, if you drink quite often, you shouldn’t drink more than 14 units in a week and, even then, it is advisable to spread the drinking across the duration. A unit is equivalent to 10ml or 8 grams of pure alcohol.
Even with clear guidelines, most people still binge drink or are heavy drinkers for one reason or the other. This has prompted a national debate about lowering the drinking age, especially in curbing unhealthy drinking habits among college and university students.
How heavy drinking affects a woman’s body
The reason for the lower limit for women is the way their body absorbs and destroys alcohol is different from that of men. Women typically have a higher body fat to water ratio making it more difficult to degenerate the alcohol and that’s why for the same amount of alcohol, all factors constant, a woman is more likely to be drunk than a man. Other factors such as menstruation and hormones also affect how a woman’s body absorbs and gets rid of alcohol.
While daily drinking has been linked to healthy aging, heavy drinking poses a huge health risk to women.
Drinking heavily makes your body dehydrated and this, in turn, makes your skin dry. This result into a dry skin which may crack or peel and wrinkles and fine lines may form on your face. Dehydration is the reason most heavy drinkers look older than their actual age.
The liver is the organ tasked with destroying the alcohol in your body. With moderate consumption, the liver cells and tissues aren’t damaged by alcohol, and even in the case they are, they have sufficient time to grow back and the liver functions normally.
With heavy drinking, the liver tissues can be irreversibly damaged hampering the normal functioning of the liver. This is what is called liver cirrhosis. Since their bodies take a while longer to break down alcohol, women are more at risk of developing liver cirrhosis due to heavy drinking than men.
A little wine gladdens the heart. Light drinking relieves stress and lowers the blood pressure, which is good for cardiovascular health. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, puts a huge strain on the heart leading to irregular heartbeats, hypertension, and an enlarged heart. It also increases the chance of getting heart attacks and a host of other cardiovascular diseases.
Alcohol increases the body’s production of estrogen hormone which has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer. Exceeding the recommended limits puts a woman at a greater risk of developing breast cancer.
Drinking during pregnancy
No, it is not safe to drink while you are pregnant.