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The Tipping Point

A drink is always welcome, but just how much alcohol can the body handle in a lifetime?
Thirty-five-year- old Anusha Sangwan would go out five nights a week and end up drinking anywhere between 2-3 cocktails per night. “We’d party a lot in college and having two drinks every night didn’t seem like a lot of alcohol intake,” she says. Recently she was diagnosed with jaundice and her doctor told her that she had consumed more alcohol than she should consume in an entire lifetime and told her to keep off it. If she didn’t now, the doctor said, it would result in liver failure.

Statistics published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse show that the number of women in their forties dying of drink-related illnesses had doubled in the past 15 years. Current safe drinking guidelines recommend a weekly 14 units of alcohol for women and 21 for men. “If an average bottle of wine contains nine units of alcohol, a large glass of wine will contain as many as four. If you drink at least two glasses of wine every night, you will end up consuming 56 units of alcohol every week,” says Dr Anoop Mishra, Internal Medicine, Fortis. And this is the case with a type of alcohol that is considered to be safer than the others, such as vodka or whisky. A 700ml bottle of vodka may contain 28-30 units, while the same amount of whiskey contains 38 units.

Symptoms and signs of liver damage are not really visible till the time the damage is permanent. So, keep a tab on the amount of alcohol that you consume every week or month and if the result is worrying, visit a doctor. “If you think you have been drinking a lot, get in touch with your doctor before it gets too late. If you don’t, it will lead to permanent liver damage,” says Dr S K Aggarwal, internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. “Since the liver does everything from producing antibodies to fighting off infection to the processing of food to detoxification, one should really take care of it. The liver has so many vital functions that its failure mostly results in death,” says Dr Mishra.

However, unlike other organs, the liver has the ability to regenerate after suffering damage. “Unless you are suffering from something as serious as cirrhosis (a chronic liver disease), going off alcohol will make your liver get back in its healthy form,” says Dr Aggarwal. So, if you abstain from alcohol for two years, your liver will almost repair itself from all the alcohol damage.
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source: The Indian Express

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