By Leanne Simmons
HEALTH EXPERTS are warning that women are putting themselves at greater risk of mouth, throat and breast cancer after a new study found they now drink as much booze as men.
Global research, published in October by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre of the University of New South Wales in Australia, looked at the alcohol consumption habits of four million people over a period of a century. It concluded women have now caught up to men.
Dr John Larsen, director of evidence and impact at alcohol education charity Drinkaware said: “We know that drinking patterns among different ages and genders are changing over time reflecting wider societal changes, but it is important to remember the harm that heavy drinking can inflict on our physical and mental health.
“The UK chief medical officer recommends that both men and women do not regularly drink more than 14 units a week, which is six pints of four per cent beer, to keep health risks at a low level.
“The risk of developing a range of health problems, including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast, increases the more you drink on a regular basis.”
Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern said: “Drinking too much, too often, can store up future health problems, both mental and physical, with people not realising just how easy it is to go over recommended limits.
“This is why we need mandatory health warnings on alcohol products and a mass media campaign to make sure the chief medical officer’s guidelines are widely known and understood.
“We know from our annual Dry January campaign that people often don’t realise that alcohol has become a habit rather than a pleasure, with women having wine o’clock most nights of the week.”
She said women’s drinking habits had become worse since the 1950s.
“Drinking at home has continued to increase and because alcohol is so cheap and easily available it’s become an everyday grocery item.
“We’ve also seen a concerted effort from the alcohol industry to market products and brands specifically to women,” she added.
Esther Nagle, 43, of Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales, suffered from depression for a number of years. She had a breakdown, and turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
She said: “I know now that alcohol was making my mental health worse and worse, but at the time it was my only coping strategy, I craved the oblivion and escape that booze gave me.
“I am now much better without drinking alcohol for two years.”
Esther, a Recovery Support worker, said yoga helped her beat her alcohol addiction and get her life back on track.
Dr Will Han, a GP at Park Grove, Barnsley, said: “I believe that cheap alcohol is encouraging women to binge drink and also the culture of drinking during the week not just at weekends, which now appears to be the norm.
“An increase in women’s workplace stress and social deprivation can also make them drink an excessive amount of alcohol as a source of escapism.”
Women’s bodies do not tolerate alcohol as well as men’s, as the alcohol in their system remains more concentrated. They also have smaller livers, which makes it harder to process alcohol safely.
For help with any alcohol issues visit: https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk