Signs of the disease only become apparent once severe and permanent damage has been done to the liver. Cases of alcoholic fatty liver disease are on the rise in the UK; could you be affected? The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified how many drinks in one week constitute as “heavy drinking”. For women, consuming eight drinks or more per week is considered heavy drinking; this threshold increases to 15 drinks for a man.
The NHS regard binge drinking – a form of heavy alcohol consumption – as six units in a single session for women, and eight units for a man.
This is less than what you would typically expect, with six units equivalent to two large glasses of 12 percent wine.
Five bottles (330ml) of five percent strength beer is equivalent to eight units.
If extensive damage to the liver has already been done, watch out for any of these warning signs:
- Feeling sick
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Swelling in the ankles and tummy
- Confusion or drowsiness
- Vomiting blood or passing blood in your stools
“The number of people with the condition has been increasing over the last few decades as a result of increasing levels of alcohol misuse,” said the NHS.
Scarring of the liver is known as cirrhosis; people with this health complication are putting their life in danger.
People with cirrhosis who continue to drink have less than a 50 percent chance of living for at least five more years.
“Alcohol misuse is now one of the most common causes of death in the UK, along with smoking and high blood pressure,” added the NHS.
This is because alcoholic fatty liver disease can lead to internal bleeding, a build-up of toxins in the brain, and liver cancer.
The most effective way to prevent alcoholic fatty liver disease is to stop drinking or to stick to government guidelines on drinking.
At present, men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units per week.
Bear in mind that a bottle of wine usually consists of more than 10 units.
“Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week,” advised the national health body.
What is 14 units?
The Alcohol Education Trust listed what constitutes as one unit:
- A half pint of lower strength (four percent) lager, beer or cider;
- Or a single measure of spirit (40 percent);
- Or a small bottle (275ml of four percent) alcopop.
This means 14 single shots of spirits, such as vodka, rum, and brandy – spread out across the week – counts as 14 units.
- A standard glass (175ml) of 12 percent wine or champagne;
- Or a pint of four percent lager, beer, or cider;
- Or a 440ml can of 4.5 percent lager, beer or cider;
- Or a double measure of spirit (40 percent).
- A pint of five percent lager, beer or cider;
- Or a large glass (250ml) of 12 percent wine;
- Or a large bottle (700ml) of four percent alcopop.
- A large bottle (700ml) of 5.5 percent alcopop;
- Or a 500ml can of 7.5 percent lager, beer or cider.
Some people may have the misconception that a glass of whiskey is more lethal than a glass of wine.
This misconception needs to be shattered; a glass of wine has more units than a single shot of whiskey.