Can men drink more alcohol than women?
Men and alcohol
A beer after work, an eighth of wine for dinner and then a schnapps - or two - for digestion: that alcohol is an integral part of social events in this country and is also habitually drunk in one's own four walls is well known and statistically proven. In a global comparison of nations, only the French drink more. It is true that Austrians get intoxicated with the popular drug number one with equal frequency, but when it comes to quantities, the representatives of the stronger sex hold the negative record. 24 percent of men, more than twice as many as women, consume so much alcohol every day that they endanger their health. Among the dependent alcoholics, the overhang of men is even greater: the ratio is around 4 to 1.
Tempted to drink
There are several reasons for this, knows Prim. Univ. Prof. Dr. Michael Musalek, psychiatrist, psychotherapist and medical director of the Anton Proksch Institute, a therapy center for addicts in Vienna: "Men have conditions that tend to encourage drinking." These are physical, psychological and social. The social side is that Drinkability for men is seen as positive - and is proven accordingly. In addition, when drinking alcohol, the male brain releases larger amounts of the happiness hormone dopamine, which immediately triggers a sense of wellbeing. Men find it far more enjoyable to get drunk than women. In addition, they do not have to suffer so much once they have drunk too much, because men can tolerate more beer, wine, schnapps etc. than women. The reasons for this: You have more body mass, where the alcohol can spread more widely, and the alcohol-degrading enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase is also more active in the male stomach.
Regardless of this, "Men who drink daily and for years beyond the harmlessness limit of 24 grams of alcohol that is valid for men must expect a number of health problems," warns Musalek. 24 grams, which corresponds to e.g. B. the amount of half a liter of beer or a quarter of a liter of wine. Musalek: “It is normal for many men to drink two and three times this amount every day.” This means that men risk developing a range of health problems earlier and more frequently than women. The organs in particular are affected: "Too much alcohol irritates the organs and can cause inflammation, diseases and tumors," explains Univ. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ludvik, specialist in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism at the Vienna General Hospital. The liver, stomach, intestines and pancreas are particularly at risk.
If you drink alcohol frequently, you are also at an increased risk of high blood pressure and thus of a stroke. Since a lot of sugar is consumed with alcohol, men who drink a lot are also at risk of insulin resistance. “This means that the insulin works worse and the sugar in the blood is no longer broken down sufficiently,” explains Ludvik. This can lead to diabetes. Alcohol abuse also means that the body can no longer produce enough vitamin D. If this important nutrient is deficient, there is a risk of bone loss, known as osteoporosis in technical terms. Finally, increased alcohol consumption can lead to concentration and memory disorders and even dementia. "Too much alcohol over the years irritates the transmission of stimuli between the nerve cells in the brain," says Ludvik, explaining the mechanism.
Overconfidence & aggression
The dopamine, which is released in large quantities in men through alcohol consumption, not only ensures well-being, but also strengthens self-esteem. “This often results in overconfidence,” Musalek knows. This means that after too much alcohol, men are more likely than women to put themselves into dangerous situations, e.g. B. drive home drunk. It is not uncommon for the overestimation of oneself to be expressed in aggressive behavior after consuming alcohol. Musalek: "When intoxicated, men are more likely to start quarrels or fights that lead to injuries." Sometimes alcoholized men also direct the aggression against themselves, injure themselves or develop suicidal thoughts.
Beer belly & men's breasts
Alcohol makes men fat, and there are several reasons for this: On the one hand, the fat from the alcohol is easily stored in the body, "especially around the middle of the body, which creates the classic beer belly," explains Ludvik. On the other hand, the liver is so busy breaking down alcohol that it can no longer break down enough fat. Ludvik: "Men who drink too much alcohol also have an excess of estrogens, the female sex hormones, compared to the male sex hormone testosterone." And that often leads to gynecomastia: men grow bosoms.
Sleep disorders & sleep apnea
"Although alcohol has the property that it makes you tired after a while and makes it easy to fall asleep, it is difficult to sleep through after consuming too much alcohol," says Musalek. The sleep disorders arise because the organism is stressed by the alcohol. Men also snore more intensely after drinking alcohol and are more likely to suffer from pauses in breathing, the so-called sleep apnea, which further affects the quality of sleep.
Erectile Dysfunction & Impotence
Since the balance between male and female sex hormones in the body of men who drink a lot of alcohol is disturbed, they often suffer from potency problems, says Ludvik. “The spectrum ranges from erectile dysfunction to impotence.” A problem that not only burdens men themselves, but also their partners: the inability to lead a normal sex life often destroys partnerships.
Minus 17 years of age
Overall, the strong weakness for alcohol costs the strong sex many years of life: men who cannot stop drinking and who drink more than half a liter of beer or more than a quarter of a liter of wine can expect to live 17 years less live as their peers who handle alcohol in moderation. Experts like Musalek and Ludvik advise reducing the amount below the harmlessness limit (24 grams) and not drinking alcohol at all two days a week. If you can't do that, you should seek medical help.
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