Liver Health

Updated 20 March 2015

Don't wreck your liver or your reputation

It’s that time of the year again – invitations pour in for drinks after work, long, boozy lunches and nights out on the town with garrulous people brandishing company credit cards.

It’s that time of the year again – after a year at the coalface the invitations pour in for drinks after work, long, boozy lunches and nights out on the town with garrulous people brandishing company credit cards. You actually enjoy the company of these generous folk, but worry about their effect on your health. So, what are the risks?

We don't need to warn you about groping the boss or her husband, so we won't. But here's some worthwhile advice about booze, office functions and your long-term health.

There’s been much talk lately about the benefits of alcohol. Moderate drinking has been shown to be good for you. And yes, a single glass of red wine each day can help raise your levels of HDL, the so-called “good cholesterol.”

It’s a view eagerly seized on by tipplers seeking justification for their indulgence. But some groups, such as the American Heart Association, urge caution. More than two drinks a day will increase your risk of heat disease, obesity, nerve damage, cancer of the mouth or throat, and cirrhosis of the liver.

So how much is enough? Well, limit yourself to two units a day. A unit is measured as half a pint of beer; a glass of wine or a pub-sized measure of spirits.

To some folk, this might seem like a lot, but you should marry this ostensibly generous allowance with some restraint. Don’t drink at all at least twice a week.

Many blokes will find that even half a pint of beer each day will pile on the pounds, so monitor your weight. If you love handles swell, step up the fat-burning compenent of your exercise programme and switch from beer to say, red wine.

If you’re at a party, pair every drink with a big glass of water. It’ll mean more trips to the toilet, but being hydrated never hurt anyone. Have something to eat, even if it means inhaling a sandwich before going out.

Despite these efforts, even the most disciplined of drinkers will occasionally wake up with a hangover. When that happens, stay off booze for at least 48 hours. Don’t treat the symptoms of your hangover with caffeine and greasy food – that’ll only add insult to the injury already inflicted on your body.

Drink plenty of water. Eat sensibly and avoid making the same mistake again. You might regard yourself as a cheerful drinker, but take note of these facts: alcohol is a factor in at least a quarter including a quarter of all murders and as much as three-quarters of all traffic deaths.

It’s also a biological fact that many people can’t control their relationships with alcohol. If so, you have a responsibility to do something about it. Two million Alcoholics Anonymous members already have. William Smook – Health24 writer


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