Alcohol and your health

by 27 Nov 2007

Alcohol is a licit drug available in many forms – most of which have intriguing, fascinating and speech-inspiring qualities. But, after the party is over, no matter what form we imbibed it is excreted as water, carbon dioxide and (what a waste) alcohol.

With regard to health, men can have six standard drinks and women four standard drinks at any one time with at least two alcohol free days a week. However, our triglycerides (lipid form) may rise and our liver enzymes may commence to distort, particularly if we do not have regular significant exercise and a balanced diet. One standard drink of any alcohol form will confirm some degree of cardiac protection. Any extra gives no extra benefit. In fact, over time, the converse happens with liver, nervous and cardiovascular systems expressing serious discontent.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressive and so visual interpretation and reflex times are compromised, making machinery control a serious risk to self and others. With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.2 (four times upper driving limit of 0.05) the risk of death is 320 times higher than with a non-drinker.

There are 3.7 million drivers in Victoria and of these one in 250 people will record positive readings. These people can be broken down into three groups: the antisocial, problematic young male; the alcoholic (“where is my morning drink?”); or seniors and sub-seniors (“really officer, I thought I only had two or three drinks”).

The nominated driver scene is working. With Christmas upon us, please appreciate that even if you are cavalier about your own existence, appreciate that you mean so much to many others – family, friends, work colleagues. Control your drinking for the sake of all aforementioned and for your future.

By Dr Ian McPherson, executive manager – medical services, Peak Health Management. Email or visit

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