:Alcohol Advice/Info as the weekend draws near..

Most people who have alcohol-
related health problems aren’t
alcoholics. They’re simply people
who have regularly drunk more
than the recommended levels for
some years.
The NHS recommends:
Men should not regularly drink
more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol
a day.
Women should not regularly drink
more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol
a day.
If you’ve had a heavy drinking
session, avoid alcohol for 48
hours.
‘Regularly’ means drinking these
amounts every day or most days of
the week.
Regularly drinking more than the
recommended daily limits risks
damaging your health.
There’s no guaranteed safe level of
drinking, but if you drink less than the
recommended daily limits, the risks of
harming your health are low.
And it’s certainly not only people who
get drunk or binge drink who are at
risk. Most people who regularly drink
more than the NHS recommends
don’t see any harmful effects at first.
Alcohol’s hidden harms usually only
emerge after a number of years. And
by then, serious health problems can
have developed.
Liver problems, reduced fertility, high
blood pressure, increased risk of
various cancers and heart attack are
some of the numerous harmful
effects of regularly drinking more than
the recommended levels.
The effects of alcohol on your health
will depend on how much you drink.
The more you drink, the greater the
health risks.
Drinkers can be divided into three risk
categories:
lower-risk drinkers
increasing-risk drinkers
higher-risk drinkers
Read about alcohol units to work out
how much alcohol there is in your
drinks.
Lower-risk drinkers
Lower-risk drinking means that you
have a low risk of causing yourself
future harm.
However, drinking consistently within
these limits is called “lower-risk”
rather than “safe” because drinking
alcohol is never completely safe.
To be a lower-risk drinker, the NHS
recommends that:
Men should not regularly drink
more than 3 to 4 units a day.
Women should not regularly
drink more than 2 to 3 units a
day.
Even drinking less than this is not
advisable in some circumstances.
Drinking any alcohol can still be too
much if you’re going to drive, operate
machinery, swim or do strenuous
physical activity.
Pregnant women or women trying to
conceive should not drink alcohol.
When you drink, alcohol reaches your
baby through the placenta. Too much
exposure to alcohol can seriously
affect your baby’s development.
If you’re pregnant and choose to
drink, do not drink more than 1 to 2
units of alcohol once or twice a week,
and do not get drunk. This will
minimise the risk to the baby.
People who drink should aim to be in
the lower-risk category to minimise
the health risks.
Increasing-risk drinkers
Drinking at this level increases the risk
of damaging your health. Alcohol
affects all parts and systems of the
body, and it can play a role in
numerous medical conditions.
Increasing-risk drinking is:
regularly drinking more than 3 to
4 units a day if you’re a man
regularly drinking more than 2 to
3 units a day if you’re a woman
If you’re drinking at around these
levels, your risk of developing a
serious illness is higher than non-
drinkers:
Men are 1.8 to 2.5 times as likely
to get cancer of the mouth, neck
and throat, and women are 1.2 to
1.7 times as likely.
Women are 1.2 times as likely to
get breast cancer.
Men are twice as likely to develop
liver cirrhosis, and women are 1.7
times as likely.
Men are 1.8 times as likely to
develop high blood pressure, and
women are 1.3 times as likely.
If you’re an increasing-risk drinker
and you drink substantially more than
the lower-risk limits, your risks will be
even higher than those above.
At these levels of drinking, you may
already have alcohol-related
problems, such as fatigue or
depression, weight gain, poor sleep
and sexual problems.
Whatever your age or sex, you’re
probably in worse physical shape than
you would be otherwise. Also, you
could easily have higher blood
pressure due to your drinking.
Some people argue a lot when they
drink, which can negatively affect their
relationships with family and friends.
Higher-risk drinkers
If you’re in this group, you have an
even higher risk of damaging your
health compared with increasing-risk
drinkers.
Higher-risk drinking is:
regularly drinking more than 8
units a day or 50 units a week if
you’re a man
regularly drinking more than 6
units a day or 35 units a week if
you’re a woman
Again, alcohol affects the whole body
and can play a role in numerous
medical conditions. You have a much
higher risk of developing alcohol-
related health problems. Your body
has probably suffered some damage
already, even if you’re not yet aware
of it.
Compared to non-drinkers, if you
regularly drink above higher-risk
levels:
You could be 3 to 5 times more
likely to get cancer of the mouth,
neck and throat.
You could be 3 to 10 times more
likely to develop liver cirrhosis.
Men could have four times the risk
of having high blood pressure,
and women are at least twice as
likely to develop it.
You could be twice as likely to
have an irregular heartbeat.
Women are around 1.5 times as
likely to get breast cancer.
The more you drink above the higher-
risk threshold, the greater the risks. So
some of the health risks can be even
higher than those above. You’re likely
to have the same problems as
increasing-risk drinkers: feeling tired
or depressed, or gaining extra weight.
You may be sleeping poorly or having
sexual problems. And, like increasing-
risk drinkers but possibly more so,
you’re likely to be in worse physical
shape than you would be otherwise,
whatever your age or sex. You could
also have high blood pressure.
At these levels, your drinking may
make you argumentative, which might
damage your relationships with family
and friends.
Read about alcohol support to find
out who can help you with problem
drinking.