Alcohol is one of the most addictive substances consumed worldwide. It has also been estimated that almost 3 million alcohol-related deaths are caused each year throughout the world.
Over the period of time, there has been an increase in the amount of consumption of alcohol around the world by women, making it a global concern. During Alcohol Awareness Week, people are encouraged to think about drinking. It is an opportunity for us to raise awareness and advocate for change. Being an alcohol awareness week – we are going to discuss how alcohol affects the body, especially women.
Q1. What happens when we drink alcohol?
- What happens in the body: Alcohol once consumed is very quickly moved around the body in the bloodstreams to all parts of the body. Alcohol remains in the bloodstream until it is broken down by the liver.
- What happens in the Liver: The liver filters the blood and transforms roughly 80 to 90 percent of alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is extremely acidic and causes liver damage in our bodies, by metabolising it (breaking it down with the help of enzymes like alcohol dehydrogenase). And also affects multiple organs like the brain, heart, kidney and numerous other organs as well.
Q2. Are there any guidelines for safe alcohol consumption?
It has long been debated whether there is actually any amount of alcohol that constitutes a safe amount to drink.
Increasingly so, many people argue that they only drink a safe amount of alcohol. But there is no such thing as called safe amount of alcohol.
Based on various studies it is said women should have not more than one glasses per day. Here we’re referring to a few ounces, it is the amount that will cause the least damage.
One drink per day for women is considered moderate. One drink is
- 354 ml standard beer (5% alcohol)
- 148 ml wine (12% alcohol)
- 44 ml 80 proof distilled spirits (40 per cent alcohol)
- These authoritative restrictions do not imply that you will be safe.
Q3. Does alcohol affect women differently than men?
The answer is yes, it does. let’s know-how
If women and men both consume the same amount of alcohol majority, women’s blood alcohol content will be higher than that of men. Females have alcohol-related problems at lower levels of alcohol consumption than males.
- Women are smaller (according to body) than men: Which means the amount of alcohol goes in a smaller body.
- Fats content is more in the body than water content: Meanwhile fat retains alcohol, while water helps disperse it. So, thanks to their naturally higher levels of body fat and lower levels of body water, the alcohol present in the blood is more concentrated and thus women experience an even more dramatic physiological response to alcohol. If the women weigh similar to that of men, even then her Blood alcohol level will be higher.
- Alcohol is broken down in the stomach: Before the alcohol reaches the bloodstream some alcohol is broken down in the stomach. This might happen less in women if they drink a lot of alcohol’.
- Women have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase (AHD): An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which is released in the liver and broken down in the body. Consequently, alcohol remains in a woman’s system longer and builds up faster.
- Hormonal factors: Same amount of drink – blood alcohol higher just before menstruation and at their lowest on the first day after menstruation may also play a role in making women more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. Studies have found that with the same amount of drink, blood alcohol concentrations are at their highest just before menstruation and their lowest on the first day after menstruation.
- Women get easily alcohol-addicted: Women who drink excessively also tend to develop addiction and other medical issues more quickly. It’s a phenomenon known as ‘telescoping,’ which means that while women with alcohol problems start drinking later in life than men, it takes them significantly less time to develop an addiction. Women are also more susceptible to liver disease, as well as heart and nerve damage.
Q4. Now let us understand why women drink?
Most of the reasons why women drink? are same as that of men:
Common reasons as men:
- To relax
- To gain confidence in social situations
- To get to sleep
- To relieve stress
- Problems with a loved one.
- Another reason is women who are unmarried, divorced or separated.
- Women’s whose husbands have alcohol problems.
- Women who are sexually abused or have been sexually abused are more likely to binge drink.
Q5. What are the risks of Alcohol in Women?
- Cancer: Women who consume alcohol have a higher risk of breast cancer and malignancies of the head and neck.
- Brain Damage: Alcohol causes brain cells to die, and women are more vulnerable to this effect than men.
- Pregnancy: If you are trying to conceive let me tell you Alcohol can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. And If you didn’t realize you were pregnant and consumed alcohol the chances of damage are low but if you want you may consult with your doctor if you want to. But you need to keep one thing in mind is that consumption of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy can prove to be extremely dangerous for the baby and can have serious harmful consequences on the unborn child. No amount of alcohol consumption is safe during pregnancy. Pregnancy:
- Victimization: Women with alcoholism are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault or other forms of abuse.
- Depression and personal injury: In addition, alcohol consumption can contribute to depression, sleeping problems, heart failure, falls, and poor nutrition in women, especially older women.
Q6. Does alcohol consumption increase the chances of breast cancer in women?
- According to World Health Organisation, one in five(21.6%) of all alcohol-related deaths are caused due to cancer in the world.
- Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, thus it’s important to be aware of how drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing the disease.
- 1 drink / Day is linked to 11 additional breast cancers per 1000 women: According to a recent study: 1.3 million women estimated that each additional alcoholic drink regularly consumed per day was associated with 11 additional breast cancers per 1000 women.
- Increases chances of other cancer: Drinking alcohol also increases your risk of other types of cancer like liver, bowel. mouth. Oesophageal cancer and laryngeal cancer.
Q7. What are some of the warning signs of alcohol problems?
- Missing work or school because of drinking.
If alcohol is causing problems for you or others, you may have an alcohol problem.
The risk of developing an alcohol problem if you have a family history of alcoholism.
- Driving while inebriated
- Having a strong desire to drink
- Requiring more alcohol than before to achieve a pleasurable response
- Discovering that people who care about you are concerned about your drinking
- You’re drinking alone or early in the day
- You’re consuming more than seven drinks per week
Q8. What is the effect of the consumption of too much alcohol in women?
- Interferes with normal sleep.
- Dehydrates your body and skin. It also deprives the skin of certain vital vitamins and nutrients.
- Gain weight. Did you know that two large glasses of wine contain the same number of calories as a burger?
- It lowers the amount of fat your body uses as fuel. We can’t store alcohol in our bodies, therefore our bodies try to get rid of it as soon as possible. And this process takes precedence over nutrient absorption and fat burning.
Other side Effects with age:
- Alcohol might exacerbate some menopausal symptoms. Hot flushes, night-time sweats, and weight gain are all common symptoms of menopause. These problems are frequently exacerbated by alcohol. After menopause and due to old age our bones slowly get thinner and drinking alcohol can make this worse, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. (A condition that affects the bones, causing them to become weak and fragile and more likely to break).
Serious Side effects:
- Mental Health Problems
- Alcoholic Hepatitis
- Fatty liver
- High blood pressure
- Nerve damage
- Cardiomyopathy is a chronic illness of the heart muscle. Some types of cancer
Q 9. What are the tips for safe drinking?
- Safety limit/ week: For women, the authority to consume alcohol is up to 8-10 units per week.
- Have a few drink-free days a week: If you want to reduce your alcohol use, try having a few drink-free days a week and observe what beneficial outcomes you get.
- Look for other methods to unwind: Some folks use alcohol to unwind. Alcohol, on the other hand, can make you feel even more stressed. Alternative stress relievers include going to the gym or taking a hot bath.
- Be aware of the beverages you consume: Before you buy alcohol, make sure to check the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) and stick to the recommended limits. The Drinkaware app will help you keep track of the units in your drinks so you can stay on target.
- No Binging: This does not mean you can drink the entire amount in one sitting. This is referred to as binge drinking, and it is exceedingly hazardous.
- Avoid alcohol if pregnant or intending to become pregnant: If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you should abstain from consuming alcohol. Because it can harm your baby’s physical and mental development.
- 1 unit per hour: It’s important to remember that the liver can only break down alcohol at the pace of one drink per hour on average.
- 2-3 units per day: Do not consume more than 2-3 units each day.
- 2-3-day gap: Allow 2-3 days between alcohol drinking sessions to allow the liver to heal.
Q 10. How do alcohol consumption affect us in the following diseases?
- Thyroid: Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking levothyroxine. Alcohol does not affect how this medicine works.
- Obesity: Drinking more than seven times per week was associated with increased risk of weight gain and development of obesity. Which is a cause of various diseases.
- Diabetes Mellitus: While moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level — sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially for people with type 1 diabetes. It can also can cause the accumulation of certain acids in the blood that may result in severe health consequences. Finally, alcohol consumption can worsen diabetes-related medical complications, such as disturbances in fat metabolism, nerve damage, and eye disease.
Smoking and Alcohol: Studies have shown that smoking and drinking together can increase the risk of throat and oesophageal cancer. This may be because the alcohol dissolves chemicals in the cigarette while they are still in the throat. This can cause carcinogens to become trapped against the sensitive tissues of the throat.
- Don’t forget there is no safe limit to drink alcohol, but make sure to follow these limits as its any day better than binge drinking.
- If you need any help to overcome you drinking habit, don’t feel shy and consult your doctor or a specialist.