Drink driving was quite common in the 1970s but is frowned upon today. In Australia, following various public health campaigns the percentage of people drinking to excess has dropped in the last ten years. There’s also a much greater awareness around the calorie impact of alcohol consumption – people who are watching their weight tend to drink less.
Yet to some extent the health considerations of drinking haven’t been talked about as much as they could’ve been. Perhaps this is because we often associate drinking alcohol with social gatherings and we don’t want to spoil the fun.
The genetic factor
In addition to making a person feel tipsy, alcohol can have a range of side-effects. What is less known is that there is a genetic component to these side-effects. Your genes control how sensitive you are to alcohol and influence how likely you are to binge drink, or to become dependent on alcohol.
Avoiding a hangover
How likely you are to get a hangover is also affected by your genes. Even if you are fortunate that you can drink more before experiencing a hangover, there is a downside. People who can tolerate more alcohol are more likely to drink more, and drinking more brings increased health risks. The disappointing reality is that the key to avoiding a hangover is drinking less alcohol in the first place.
The reason why a hangover feels so bad is because it really is bad for your system. A hangover happens when a toxic substance called acetaldehyde is being processed through your body. This build up caused by heavy drinking which the enzymes in the body cannot process. This causes a range of unpleasant and unhealthy effects – these can include increased skin temperature, facial flushing, increased heart rate, lower blood pressure, a dry mouth, nausea and headache.
Why a red face from drinking is no laughing matter
Some people experience many of these effects after just one or two drinks. For those who go red in the face after drinking, it can be much more than an embarrassment. This ‘facial flushing’ is common in some Asian populations. Not only is it a sign that the body is struggling to break down the alcohol, it can also indicate that the person has an increased risk of alcohol related diseases.
A myDNA Fitness and Alcohol Report can provide more information on these risks as well as advice how the risk changes depending on the amount of alcohol a person consumes.
Nobody wants to be the one spoiling the fun of social drinking, but once you know your own individual risk it can become easier to stick to certain limits when drinking alcohol.