August 29, 2012 9.21 am This story is over 139 months old

Your health: Could you be a binge drinker?

What’s too much? In this week’s health column, Lisa looks at binge drinking, and what you risk if you drink too many units of alcohol.

If I was to say ‘binge drinking’ to you, what picture would it paint? Young people staggering out of pubs of a weekend? Stag nights and hen parties? The club scene in Ibiza? Perhaps, but the shocking truth is that having a couple of large glasses of wine at home to chill in the evening could be considered binge drinking.

What is binge drinking? The NHS and National Office of Statistics says it’s drinking heavily or more than double the daily unit guidelines for alcohol in one session. For women the daily guideline is 2-3 units and for a man its 3-4. So double the recommended units would be two large glasses of wine for a woman and three pints of strong beer for a man.

You don’t have to drink every day to binge drink. Even if you only drink now and again but drink over the recommended amount, drink quickly or drink to get drunk, you could be a binge drinker. If you start drinking and you find it hard to stop, then you may have a problem with alcohol dependence.

Drinking over the recommended guidelines in a short period of time will raise your blood alcohol concentration quickly and studies have shown that drinking like this is bad for your health compared to drinking smaller amounts in moderation occasionally.

Even if you are the type of person that can “hold their drink“, damage is being done. The old adage, ‘you reap what you sow’ is very true. You are an increasing-risk drinker, if you regularly drink over the recommended daily units. This means you are more at risk of mouth, neck and throat cancer, for women breast cancer, for both men and women liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure and a whole host of other problems.

You are a higher-risk drinker if you regularly drink over eight units a day or 50 units a week if you’re a man, or six units a day or 35 units a week if you’re a woman. You have a higher risk of the diseases described above and are more likely to have an irregular heartbeat.

Binge drinking is a real problem nationally and locally with admissions to Lincoln County hospital for drink related problems being much higher than the England average!

Don’t leave things until it’s too late. Take action now and be healthy.

Lisa Boulton is the Medical Director of Amethyst Health Screening, a local company which carries out health checks and cardiovascular risk assessments for Lincoln residents and local businesses. She contributes on health-related topics for The Lincolnite.