We are inundated with memes on social media glamorizing or making light of wine and other alcohol use to numb the senses and otherwise get through our lives. It seems that women, especially moms, are specifically targeted and encouraged to consume wine to ease the pain and stress of motherhood. An occasional glass of wine with dinner is not worrisome but alcohol has a cumulative effect on the body.
Warning...if you read on, you may be surprised and perhaps, unhappy about what you're about to learn.
- Women are likely to be more affected by alcohol consumption than men. Women have lower water content in our bodies which results in a higher concentration of blood alcohol from consuming the same amount as a man of similar size and weight. Men metabolize the alcohol more quickly than women but women seem to be able to eliminate the alcohol more quickly.
- Women's monthly cycles and hormonal fluctuations cause women to be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol in the few days just before her period begins. Alcohol consumption increases estrogen levels and birth control or other medications containing estrogen are likely to increase intoxication levels. Men do not have a similar fluctuation in hormones and are therefore not any more or less affected at various times of the month.
- Alcohol also increases estrogen levels in men however. The result of overconsumption of alcohol in men can lead to loss of body hair, swollen breasts, shrunken testicles and impotence.
- While men are more likely to become dependent on alcohol, young women (ages 18-25) are more likely to engage in binge drinking. This is especially dangerous because their brains are still not completely developed until about the mid-twenties.
- Long term drinking has been found to shrink the frontal lobes of the brain which are associated with executive function such as attention, judgment and memory. The ability to make sound decisions and regulate moods and behavior are also affected. Excessive use of alcohol can also contribute to and accelerate sign of dementia.
- Overindulgence in alcohol can also interfere with the brain's ability to make and retain memories. A blackout may occur that makes it difficult or even impossible to recall what happened before and during drinking.
- Alcohol dependence is different for everyone and physical dependence can happen when your performance at your job or in your life is impacted by drinking.
- Chronic overindulgence and heavy drinking is directly linked to cardiovascular disease
- Chronic drinking is also directly linked to a higher risk of throat, mouth or esophageal cancer. This is especially true if you combine smoking with the drinking. Women who drink are more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Alcohol is metabolized through the liver so overconsumption can damage the liver and impair its ability to filter other toxins from the body. It also contributes to fatty liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver, which can be fatal.
- Pancreatitis is linked to heave alcohol consumption and can also be fatal.
- Sexual dysfunction, particularly erectile dysfunction, is linked to alcohol abuse.
- Diabetics can be particularly negatively impacted by alcohol abuse because it can cause blood sugar to be out of balance. People at risk of developing diabetes because of other factors in their life, should be careful with their use of alcohol.
We often hear that a glass of red wine is good for the heart because of the resveratrol contained therein, but you can also get resveratrol from eating red grapes, cranberries, blueberries and even dark chocolate. It isn't necessary to consume alcohol to get the benefits.
Alcohol is the most widely consumed and abused drug in our society. It has grave health and economic implications from the drain on the healthcare system due to disease, accidents, overdose, lost employment productivity and sometimes the death of a family breadwinner or primary caregiver. It's really important to know the dangers of its use and abuse before engaging in such a dangerous and reckless activity. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Act as if your and other lives depend on it, because they do.
As a health coach, I work with women who are facing serious health challenges like heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes or who have been diagnosed as having a precursor to a serious health issue such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. I help them make food and lifestyle changes so they can get healthy, live longer and enjoy a fuller, happier, more energetic life. If you would like to have a free consultation about the health challenges you have and the improvements you would like to see in your health, click here to schedule a no strings attached call.