Risks of drinking too much alcohol

October 11, 2012

Medicine

Risks of drinking too much alcohol

Risks of drinking too much alcohol

Most people will have the occasional glass of wine or pint of lager without thinking about the effects it could have on their health. However, when the occasional glass or pint turns into one or more every night for a number of weeks or years, there could be serious health consequences.

Guidelines published by the NHS recommend the appropriate amounts or units of alcohol for men and women. Men are advised to drink less than 3 or 4 units a day, while women should drink no more than 2 or 3 units. If you are drinking in excess of these amounts on a regular basis (this does not necessarily mean daily) you are putting your health at risk.

There is little evidence to suggest that those who binge drink are at greater risk; in fact, it is drinking beyond the recommended amount on most days which can lead to health problems materialising over a number of years. These can include reduced fertility, high blood pressure and increased risk of certain cancers.

The NHS has created three categories of drinking to make it easier for people to understand the risks they are taking with their health.

Lower-risk drinking

If you are in the lower-risk drinking category, you are someone who drinks below the NHS recommended limits. You have a low risk of having any future alcohol-related health problems. The only way to guarantee no alcohol-related health problems is to stop drinking altogether and this is recommended for pregnant women or those who are trying to get pregnant. The lower-risk category is by far the best one to be in as you are at least risk.

Increasing-risk drinking

You will fall into this category if you regularly drink more than the NHS recommended limits. This type of drinking is characterised by an increased risk of developing serious illness. Conditions that you will be at risk of developing include various cancers, liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure.

Other health problems associated with drinking alcohol at this level include depression, weight gain and sexual problems. On an emotional level, those who fall into this category may be struggling to maintain relationships or friendships because of the effects of alcohol.

Higher-risk drinking

If you are in this category you probably already have health problems related to alcohol as you will be drinking more than twice the recommended daily units on a regular basis. The health risks are the same as for those who fall into the increasing-risk drinking category (cancers, liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure), but there is significantly more risk compared to non-drinkers.

The other health problems suffered by those in this category are the same as for the increased-risk drinking category and you may find that you are not sleeping well and are in poor physical health.

There are many risks to your health from drinking alcohol that can only be totally eliminated by not drinking at all. However, you can minimise the risks by drinking responsibly and in moderation.

Drinking can also have an effect on the cost of your life insurance policy as you will be deemed a higher risk to insurers than those who don’t drink heavily.

Risks of drinking too much alcohol


This site is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment!
Alcohol, drinking

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