Surprising Ways Alcohol Can Affect a Woman's Health
Alcohol use is on the rise among women. While misuse of alcohol by any person is a serious health concern, we asked Dr. Kelvin Harris, OB-GYN with CaroMont Women’s Health-Summit in Gastonia if there are any surprising ways alcohol affects women’s health?
Dr. Kelvin Harris, OB-GYN
Alcohol has been shown to have different effects on women than it does on men. Inherent gender differences in build, body structure and body chemistry means women will retain alcohol in their bodies longer as it takes longer for them to metabolize it. So, when a woman has two glasses of wine, they’re going to experience higher blood alcohol levels than a man who drinks the same amount.
Moderate alcohol intake for women is defined as one drink a day. The amount can vary based on the type of drink in question. For beer, one drink is generally 12 fluid ounces. For wine, one drink is five fluid ounces.
In the long term, women who consume more alcohol than is recommended are at risk for developing liver disease faster than men. But it’s not just your liver that is a concern. Too much alcohol can weaken your heart, put you at increased risk for breast cancer and have an adverse effect on your immune system.
I tell my patients that it is important to drink in moderation and to balance that with a healthy lifestyle. A good diet, exercise and stress management are all integral parts of a women’s overall health. And if you’re going to drink, consider the following:
-Avoid sugary cocktails. Mixers have a lot of extra calories and the influx of sugar is not good for your body.
-If you’re going to drink beer, be sure to read the label. Beers vary greatly in alcohol content and calorie count.
-Wine can be a healthier option, and has been said to improve heart health. But for those benefits, women should still stick with the one glass per day. Drinking more, especially over a period of time, will have an adverse effect on your health.
-Have a glass of water after every glass of alcohol. Preventing dehydration and making sure your body has enough electrolytes is key.
Have questions about how your alcohol intake is affecting your health? Ask your doctor at your next appointment. Looking for a doctor you can trust? Dr. Harris is accepting new patients at CaroMont Women's Health-Summit in Gastonia. Learn more about him and our other experts in women's health here.