Women at Special Risk
While it’s usually men who suffer from too much drinking long-term, women need to be careful too. “Small females can be affected much faster than larger-framed males,” says Auckland-based specialist gastroenterologist Dr Ali Jafer, who is appalled by how the rise of sweet, intoxicating RTDS (ready-to- drink beverages) has made drinking easier and more appealing to teenagers.
“They’ve been an absolute disaster. It has normalised alcohol for young people. People jump up and down about synthetic marijuana, but RTDS are no different. I’ve never tasted one in my life, but I know how much kids are drinking them because you see them in the emergency department.”
Jafer has also seen people in their 40s receive liver transplants because their own has been wrecked by alcohol. “I’ve looked after women with cirrhosis in their mid-30s – but remember, it depends on how much you’ve had and how early you started. If a girl starts drinking at 15, then 10 years might be enough to cause permanent liver damage.”