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14 May 2004

Don’t drink along party lines

You can't say no - Friday after-work drinks with colleagues, long, boozy lunches and Christmas parties with drinks laid on. You actually enjoy these occasions, but worry about their effect on your health. So, what are the risks?

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You can't say no - Friday after-work drinks with colleagues, long, boozy lunches and Christmas parties with drinks laid on. You actually enjoy these occasions, but worry about their effect on your health. So, what are the risks?

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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