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Why every woman should stop drinking now

Why every woman should stop drinking now

Drinking to excess may be socially acceptable, but women are feeling the ill effects. Professor Kerryn Phelps says its high time we changed our habits.

It’s as Australian as kangaroos and a day at the footy to “like a drink”. The problem is, too many Australian women like alcohol way too much — to the point where it has become a major and increasingly serious public health issue.

More and more, we are recognising the risks associated with women overindulging in alcohol.

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A recent study of more than 40 countries found that Australian women ranked third behind Uganda and New Zealand when it came to suffering the effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

The most obvious effect is the untidiness of the drunk who had “a few too many”.

Longer-term issues include financial strain, poor work performance, relationship and family problems, malnutrition and other health effects.

More recently, we have recognised a connection between alcohol and an increase in breast, rectal and liver cancer rates in women, with data suggesting that every drink increases the risk.

The current recommendation is one or two standard drinks a day only, no more than five days a week, but this is likely to be adjusted downwards. The recommendation for pregnant women is zero.

I speak to women who are suffering the effects of too much alcohol, or who will suffer effects if they keep going the way they are.

Many are surprised when we tally up their drinks and compare it with what is considered safe.

It is not enough for a woman to say she can “hold her booze”, doesn’t get into trouble when she drinks and knows her way around a hangover.

To stay within the recommended two standard drinks, you are talking about a quarter of a bottle of wine — maximum.

A bottle of wine contains an average of eight standard drinks, so if you share one bottle between two, that is 100 per cent over — double — the recommended limit.

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When you look at the scope of the alcohol problem in Australia, the time has come for a rethink of our attitudes to its consumption.

It should be something that adds to your meal experience or your social interactions, not a way to get drunk.

Read more of this story in the September issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Your say: Do you ever drink more than two standard drinks a night? Do you think you need to cut down?

Subscribe to 12 issues of The Australian Women’s Weekly for just $69.95 and receive two FREE profile photo frmaes, valued at $37.90. That’s a 15% saving on the retail price.

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