With Christmas parties now taking place right across the UK, many will be indulging in the usual Christmas festivities. While turkey and ham are guaranteed to make an appearance on every Christmas menu, alcohol is also something that many will be ordering to accompany their meal - often in dangerous quantities.
Most enjoy the odd tipple over the Christmas period but are we putting ourselves at risk? Dr Roger Brown talks to us about drinking over the festive season.
With Christmas parties now taking place right across the UK, many will be indulging in the usual Christmas festivities.
While turkey and ham are guaranteed to make an appearance on every Christmas menu, alcohol is also something that many will be ordering to accompany their meal - often in dangerous quantities.
While a small to moderate consumption of some kinds of alcohol ( like red wine) can have some healthy effects on the body, drinking in excess can lead to a variety of illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis and diabetes. Other effects of excessive alcohol consumption include psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and impaired judgement.
Recent research commissioned by Cancer Research UK revealed that drinkers will consume 4,000 calories of alcohol during the Christmas party season.
The study suggests that young adults will drink an average of 62 units – the equivalent of 30 glasses of wine or 22 pints of beer – in the run-up to Christmas.
“It’s important to understand exactly what is considered a safe amount of alcohol.” Said Dr Roger Brown, GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital.
“Men should not regularly drink more than 3 units of alcohol a day and women should not have more than 2units. 3-4 units of alcohol are the equivalent of a pint and a half of 4% beer and 2-3 units are a 175ml glass of wine. If you are attending a party and consume more than this, it’s recommended not to drink for at least 48 hours after.” It is also worth knowing that your liver can metabolise 1 unit of alcohol per hour and therefore it is worth drinking alcohol slowly and pacing yourself!
Driving at Christmas
Driving under the influence is something which generally increases around Christmas as people are more social, resulting in more risks.
You can be over the limit to drive on less alcohol that you may think. The legal limit for driving is 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. However, it’s very difficult to judge when you’ve reached that limit so it is advised that alcohol be avoided if you are driving.
Alcohol affects each person differently. Many factors will influence the level of alcohol in your blood, such as age, weight, how quickly your body breaks down chemicals, the type of drink, the speed of drinking and the amount that you've eaten.
Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your driving in a number of ways, including:
- slower reactions
- increased stopping distance
- poorer judgment of speed and distance
- a reduced field of vision
Alcohol can also impair your judgement making you feel overconfident. This may make you more likely to take risks when driving, creating dangerous situations for yourself and other people on the road.
Current UK law means that if you’re found guilty of drink driving, you could lose your licence, get a substantial fine, be sentenced to up to six months in prison, and pay increased rates for your car insurance. (As of the 5th December, if you are going to Scotland, remember that the drink drive unit has been halved!)
Dr Brown, speaking about general advice this Christmas said, “We want everyone to have a great Christmas and enjoy themselves but they should consider the possible effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Safe decisions help ensure everyone has a great time. When it comes to activities that can be impaired such as driving it’s best to be safe and abstain from alcohol all together, as you may not only be putting your own life at risk but you could be putting someone else’s at risk as well.”
If you are affected by alcohol problems or would like to find out more about the Private GP service at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, please call 0845 60 06 352 or click here.