Beware alcohol, women told

By Sipokazi Fokazi Time of article published May 27, 2013

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Cape Town - A glass of wine or two may seem like a perfect way of de-stressing after a hard day at work.

But if you are a woman, be warned – heavy drinking is much more risky for women than it is for men.

Research shows that not only are women likely to develop serious alcohol-related diseases such as liver and heart damage, but metabolism and hormonal differences make women more prone to the effects of alcohol.

Professor Denis Viljoen, head of the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research, warned that as women were becoming more liberated in their drinking behaviour, the chances of their suffering alcohol-related illnesses were also increasing.

Viljoen said even though men and women might drink the same amounts of alcohol, women got drunk more quickly than men due to their smaller bodies as well as psychological and hormonal differences.

Women also metabolised alcohol slower as they had alcohol deydrogenase – liver enzymes that break down alcohol and its toxins before they enter the bloodstream.

Levels of blood alcohol also differed around the time of a woman’s menstrual cycle because women retained more water than men during their period.

“Women can develop liver damage and other alcohol-related health problems more quickly than men, even though they may be drinking less,” Viljoen said.

Adrian Botha, spokesman for the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, said while women seemed more susceptible to alcohol, it was important that both men and women consumed alcohol in moderation.

On average women should not drink more than 30ml of absolute alcohol or 300ml of wine a day. Beer should be limited to 600ml while 50ml of spirits such as brandy and whisky should be the limit.

Men should limit their wine to 450ml, spirits to 75ml and beers to no more than three a day. - Cape Argus

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