You need to cut down your al­co­hol in­take

The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/health -

AS A com­mu­nity we cer­tainly seem to be more in­ter­ested in what we eat than what we drink, but al­co­holism and the health risks associated with it can be a prob­lem for any­one. If your doc­tor has told you to cut back, it is likely the early liver changes caused by al­co­holic liver disease have been picked up in­ci­den­tally on a blood test. This is a com­mon sce­nario and is of­ten the mo­ti­va­tion for peo­ple to re­duce their al­co­hol con­sump­tion.

Al­co­holic liver disease tends to be associated with quite non-spe­cific symp­toms that one may not even no­tice. In the ini­tial stages there may be no symp­toms at all. Vague ab­dom­i­nal pain can oc­cur, nor­mally on the right hand side, along with di­ar­rhoea, loss of ap­petite and nau­sea.

If your GP has de­tected any of these symp­toms over a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod of time, they would test your liver func­tion and pick up the changes.

The good news is that the first stages of liver disease are re­versible, and that ab­sti­nence is the key. The later stage of liver disease is cir­rho­sis which is not re­versible, even if you give up al­co­hol al­to­gether.

The level at which liver disease can oc­cur is 35 units of al­co­hol a week for women and 50 units a week for men. This would be classed as heavy drink­ing, well be­yond the rec­om­mended weekly limit of 14 units for women, or 21 units for men. I say “can oc­cur” be­cause, amaz­ingly, 30 per cent of heavy drinkers will have no liver changes at all. Hav­ing said that, 20 per cent will go on to de­velop ir­re­versible cir­rho­sis, which leads to an early death.

A com­pelling rea­son to cut back.

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