So it’s the festive season, AKA going ‘out-out’ big time. It’s been a tough year (if it hasn’t you’re either pig rich or haven’t tried hard enough!). The nights have drawn in, it’s got cold, you’ve probably got a cold, and it’s going to be 95 long miserable days from Xmas until the clocks go forward and we get British Summer Time back on March 30th. In which case most of us will probably feel the need for a little seasonal cheer – let’s be honest in the DW office we enjoy a drink as much as the next guy and girl. Possibly unbelievably we’ve even been known to have the odd hangover!
Deaths from liver problems in the UK have reached record levels and have risen by 25% in the last 10 years. In particular death from liver disease is increasingly hitting young adults. Already 1 in 10 deaths among people in their 40’s is down to liver conditions. Most of those were due to heavy drinking. These are people who started off binge drinking in their late teens at college or Uni or with just their mates.
Much more worrying is the fact that in the last 7 years alcoholic liver disease in the young has risen by 60%.These worrying numbers have an important point to prove. Getting liver disease when you’re young really puts you in the frame for major problems when you get older. We’re not ones to preach but you wouldn’t be far wrong if you thought the livers of Britain were a time bomb waiting to explode.
The liver is the biggest organ in the body. The really clever thing about it is that it has quite remarkable powers of regeneration. The problems come when you give it a bashing on a daily (or nightly) basis. The liver works 24/7 taking toxins out of our system. So if you can give it a break from toxins, it can spend time recovering.
People always target January as a good time to ‘pack up’ stuff after the ravages of Christmas. Of course every little bit helps. However managing your health is about developing good long term habits. So you could always think about starting this side of Christmas.
Ideally you should give your liver two or three days a week without drinking. Diet is also important – fatty foods and over-eating in general make the liver work overtime. Then, like so many things to do with your health, exercise is important too.
Girls who binge drink have more sexual partners and more unwanted pregnancies. In the GUM clinic study 32% reported getting pregnant when they had sex after too much to drink (55% said it was unwanted). Before you do those last 3 shots just give a thought to the possible consequences.
So chances are we’ll all be pre-lashing, then the on the lash, then under the lash then ‘one over the lash’ at least once this part season. We’ll even claim we’ll ‘never do it again’, at least until the next lash-up the following weekend. After all it’s all quite harmless – isn’t it?
Well the odd binge isn’t a problem that can’t be slept off and cured with a few painkillers and a shed load of rehydration. Even the odd back-to-back binge won’t hurt you providing it’s an occasional event. However for the past 20 or 30 years young people in in UK are increasingly overdoing it – to the extent that alcoholic liver disease is killing them. The really sad news is that it’s getting worse.
Most of us experiment with alcohol and, at some time or other, most of us have pushed it beyond the limits – if only to find where the limits are. Yet please take care. We don’t want to be over-dramatic but there are some more scary facts about alcohol you should know:
Let’s forget about the liver for a moment. It’s a pretty robust part of you and given time can recover. There are other things to think about. Alcohol gets rid of your inhibitions. At one level that’s not a bad thing – you feel more social. However go too far and social all too often turns to sexual. Often that sex is with a random partner you don’t know and without thought of protection, especially if the girl is on the pill. Studies suggest that as many as many as 75% of people visiting GUM clinics have had unprotected sex as a result of drinking. Amazingly (or perhaps not) people with STIs drink 40% more per week than those without STIs.