Alcohol related conditions are one of the most Avoid binge drinking
common causes of admission to hospital in the Recent guidelines highlight the benefits of having a few alcohol UK and heavy drinking contributes to about free days a week. The guidance is aimed at helping break the 33,000 deaths a year. In Scotland, excessive regular cycle of drinking and giving the body time to recover drinking has become one of the most significant between drinking days. Having alcohol free days doesn't mean health and social challenges. Deaths from liver you can increase the amount you can safely drink on other days. You cannot save up the units and have them all at once. disease in England have reached record levels, This is why the recommendations are now based on daily rather than weekly amounts and specify avoiding binge drinking. Research published in the British Medical Journal helps to Recommended safe levels for alcohol
illustrate this. People in France and Northern Ireland were found to drink the same amount of alcohol each week. However, If you drink alcohol keep within safe limits. This means a French drinkers would spread their alcohol evenly over the maximum of two to three units a day for women and three to whole week, whereas the Irish drinkers would consume their four units a day for men. It is also recommended to have a few alcohol over a shorter time period i.e. one day. It was concluded that the Irish drinkers who "binged" had nearly twice the risk of What are units and what does ABV mean
suffering a heart attack or dying from heart disease compared to the French drinkers who drank in moderation.
Units express the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. One unit equals 10mls or 8g of pure alcohol which is around the amount Benefits of Alcohol in moderation
of alcohol that an average adult can process in an hour. The A daily intake of 1-2 units of alcohol is associated with a lower number of units is based on the size of the drink as well as its risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in men aged over 40- alcohol strength ie. A pint of ordinary strength lager contains 45 and in women who have been through the menopause. just over 2 units, whereas a pint of strong lager contains over 3 Scientists believe there are 2 main mechanisms by which alcohol units. The alcohol strength of a drink is expressed as alcohol by can help in CHD prevention. The main effect is an increase in volume (ABV). Most drinks declare their ABV on the label.
high density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol which reduces To work out the number of units in a drink multiply the %ABV the risk of fatty plaques or atheroma building up in the arteries. by the amount of the drink in millilitres. Then divide by 1000.
HDL helps to remove cholesterol from the blood and can help stabilize these plaques. Secondly, moderate alcohol intake may Volume (i.e. 330mls lager) multiplied by %ABV (i.e. 5%) then help prevent the formation of blood clots, reducing the level of fibrinogen, a protein which is produced by the liver and increases the likelihood of blood clotting. Other components of alcoholic drinks may provide further protection. Ones of interest are Many websites provide drink calculators to help you work this out.
flavonoids found in red wine. More research is needed to confirm this before specific advice is given.
HEART UK - The Cholesterol Charity 7 North Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 1PE. Helpline 0845 450 5988. E ask@heartuk.org.uk. W www.heartuk.org.uk
MFS-Q FACT SHEET • 03.05.12.MH
While drinking in moderation is thought to offer some Alcohol and medicines
protection against heart disease, the effect is small and those It may be necessary to avoid alcohol if you are taking certain who do not drink at all are not advised to start. The safer, medicines. This is because alcohol can interfere with the way healthier ways to protect the heart is to follow a healthy, well a drug is absorbed by the body or broken down in the liver. balanced diet, low in saturated fat, regular physical activity and Examples include sedatives (Diazepam) and ant-depressants to reduce other risk factors such as smoking, raised cholesterol (Prozac). Care should be taken with long term medications such as Warfarin and anti-epileptic medication as alcohol may make Those who have been diagnosed with a heart condition or who them less effective. There are also certain types of antibiotics have had heart surgery should check with their doctor for advice which should not be taken with alcohol as the combination can on drinking alcohol once their recovery is complete. People with make you ill. There are no known interactions between statins heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle and alcohol but the recommendation is to stay within safe is affected, may be advised to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. guidelines as statins may occasionally result in an increase in liver enzymes.
Health effects of excess alcohol
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure about drinking Usually the damage from drinking too much alcohol only alcohol with any medicines you are taking, or check the patient surfaces after a number of years. These include liver problems, information leaflet that comes with medication. reduced fertility, high blood pressure, strokes, increased risk of some cancers (including bowel, mouth, liver, throat, For those who want to cut down but still enjoy alcohol, the oesophageal and breast), abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), pancreatitis, cardiomyopathy (damage to heart muscle), Opting for a lower strength drink
decrease in blood glucose levels resulting from increased Using a smaller glass
insulin production, and mental health problems. Regular drinking Not drinking before you go out
can also cause sleep distruption, indigestion and headaches.
Trying a drink with a mixer i.e. white wine with soda or
About 4% of cancers worldwide is caused by drinking alcohol, and 6% of cancer deaths have been attributed to alcohol in the UK. Drinking alcohol with a meal only
The risk of developing cancer can increase with as little as 3 units Drinking at a later time
of alcohol a day. Individuals with cirrhosis of the liver, a condition If you normally drink to unwind try other ways to relax i.e.
often found in heavy drinkers often progresses to liver cancer.
taking a bath, walking the dog, visit friends, call a friend, Drinking over the recommended safe levels is thought to result in: Men 2-3 times and women about 1 and a half times more likely Alcohol and Pregnancy
to get cancer of the mouth, neck and throat. Men were twice as likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver. The risk of women The Food Standards Agency advise women who are pregnant getting breast cancer increases by one fifth.
or trying to get pregnant to stop drinking altogether. For those who are pregnant, too much alcohol can seriously affect their Gaining weight and an increase in waist circumference can also result from drinking alcohol. This is because weight for weight alcohol contains almost twice as much energy as the same For more information check out the sites below:
weight of sugar. It can also lead to increased triglycerides in the Calorie values of regularly ordered alcoholic drinks:
HEART UK - The Cholesterol Charity 7 North Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 1PE. Helpline 0845 450 5988. E ask@heartuk.org.uk. W www.heartuk.org.uk

Source: http://heartuk.org.uk/files/uploads/documents/huk_fs_mfsQ_alcohol.pdf

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