Alcohol and Men

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Alcohol and Men

Facts and figures, and a breakdown of the male health problems and health conditions associated with regularly drinking too much.

  • Four in 10 men drink more than daily unit guidelines
  • Why men can hold their drink better than women
  • Can alcohol affect your fertility and sexual performance?
  • How alcohol affects your appearance
  • Can alcohol cause gout?
  • Facts
  • Staying in control 

The media loves a story about young women and their binge drinking. But drinking to excess is a big issue for British men too – they’re twice as likely as women to abuse or become dependent on alcohol

If you’re a man who regularly drinks above the daily unit guidelines (three to four units a day) you risk a whole host of health issues – from low energy and sexual difficulties in the short term, to heart disease and cancer in the long term

You’re also twice as likely to develop liver cirrhosis and have nearly twice the chance (1.8 times) of being diagnosed with high blood pressure.

And it’s not just older men who have to worry about alcohol’s effect on their health. A quarter (26.6%) of deaths of men aged 16 to 24 can be attributed to alcohol

Around four in 10 men drink more than the daily unit guidelines

According to government guidance, men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer). ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week. Yet, over a third of men (35%) surveyed by the NHS in 2010 had drunk more than four units on one day in the past week. One fifth (19%) drunk twice the maximum daily unit guidelines. The definition of binge drinking for men is consuming eight or more units in a single session 6% of men in the UK are “at risk” drinkers – someone who drinks more than 51 units a week

Men can hold their drink better than women

Equality and alcohol simply don’t mix. Men’s bodies, in general, process alcohol better than women’s and it’s good to be aware of this if you’re drinking in a mixed group of friends. It comes down to simple biology: the average woman weighs less than the average man and so has less tissue to absorb alcohol. Women also have a proportionally higher ratio of fat to water than men. This means they’re less able to dilute alcohol within the body. So when they drink the same amount of alcohol, women will end up with a higher concentration of alcohol in their blood than men For both men and women, regular drinking can to lead to your body building up a tolerance to alcohol. You have to drink more to get the same effects, which can mean you end up drinking to levels that are harmful to your short- and long-term health. This is one of the main reasons it’s important to take regular breaks from alcohol. It can have the effect of ‘resetting’ your tolerance, so it becomes easier to cut back.

Alcohol can affect your fertility and sexual performance

n small amounts, alcohol may give you confidence and help you feel less inhibited. But it certainly won’t help your performance in the bedroom. And it can reduce a couple’s chances of conceiving. The good news is, if you reduce what you drink, its effect on your sex life can be quickly reversed: Testosterone levels. Studies have shown that alcohol reduces testosterone levels. This can lead to loss of libido and reduce sperm quantity and quality Sperm production and movement. As well as affecting hormone levels, alcohol is directly toxic to the testes. This can harm sperm production, stopping them developing properly and reducing their ability to move towards an egg. Alcohol may also affect the structure and movement of sperm by stopping the liver from properly metabolising vitamin A, which is needed for sperm to develop Impotence. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system which means it can make it difficult for some men to get, and keep, an erection (the infamous ‘brewer’s droop’)

Alcohol can mess with your appearance

You’d probably think twice about eating a hot dog, followed by a burger, with a doughnut for dessert. But drinking four pints of strong lager might not cause you such concern. In fact, you’d be consuming about the same amount of calories in each situation – around 1,000. Alcohol is seriously fattening. But it isn’t just the calories in the drink that makes you gain weight. Alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Because we can’t store alcohol in the body, our systems want to get rid of it as quickly as possible, and this process takes priority over absorbing nutrients and burning fat Excessive long-term drinking can also cause some seriously unattractive things to happen to men’s bodies. They include: withering of the testicles enlargement of the breasts or ‘man boobs’ loss of hair on the body Heavy drinking can also worsen skin disorders like rosacea which causes the blood vessels in the face to expand, making your face permanently redder. It can also cause inflamed red bumps and pus spots.

Alcohol can cause gout – and a whole host of long-term health issues

Heavy drinking can, of course, have more serious consequences than wobbly pecs. It can also cause gout, an arthritic condition that causes inflammation, swelling and pain in your joints which is most common in men aged 30 to 60. In the long term, drinking to excess can have many adverse effects on your health, including increasing your chances of: liver damage heart disease cancer bone disease your pancreas becoming inflamed your stomach becoming irritated type 2 diabetes anxiety and depression


Men are twice as likely as women to abuse or become dependent on alcohol A quarter of deaths of men under 34 can be attributed to alcohol 6% of men in the UK are “at risk” drinkers – someone who drinks more than 51 units a week

Staying in control

Here are three ways you can cut back and keep your drinking under control. Keep track of what you’re drinking. Your liver can’t tell you if you’re drinking too much, but the Alcoholandyou drinks calculator can. It can even help you cut down. Know your strength. Alcoholic drinks labels will have the abbreviation “ABV” which stands for Alcohol By Volume, or sometimes just the word “vol”. It shows the percentage of your drink that’s pure alcohol. This can vary a lot. For example, some ales are 3.5%, some stronger lagers can be as much as 6% ABV. This means that just one pint of strong lager can be more than three units of alcohol, so you need to keep your eye on what you’re drinking. Size matters. It’s easy to cut down by switching pints for halves or bottles of beer and choosing a smaller glass for your wine. Opting for spritzers or shandies will also help reduce the number of units you’re drinking.