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Like it or not, alcohol is not good for your health

 Like it or not, alcohol is not good for your health (Photo: iStock)

Alcohol has been in the news a lot lately. And not for good reasons. One story was attributed to a county that decided to restrict the sale of alcohol within its borders.

This only served to strengthen the resolve of the drinkers, who were said to have moved to a neighbouring county to drink even more! Then there was a report from another county where the courts ruled in favour of so-called illicit brewing. But why all the fuss about alcohol?

Many will swear by its supposed benefits in the context of social events. But others will frown upon those who partake of the stuff, citing the obvious association of drunkenness with all manner of social ills. It doesn't stop there.

There are an untold number of medical conditions associated with alcohol consumption. Such conditions are avoidable by teetotalism. From a medical point of view, there is no defined lower limit for safe drinking. You will see guidelines from various health authorities setting daily and weekly limits for 'safe' drinking. But the reality is that such guidelines cannot protect you from all the possible harms associated with alcohol. The only way you can be completely safe from alcohol is if you don't drink at all.

 The list of diseases associated with alcohol is long and includes liver disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Acute intoxication can kill suddenly. Addiction leads to all sorts of mischief, in addition to all the associated medical conditions.

Then there are the countless deaths and serious injuries associated with intoxication on the road and elsewhere.  There are all sorts of reasons why people drink alcohol. It is also unlikely that everyone will ever come around to the idea of not drinking at all. So the second best thing is to drink in moderation, which is the whole point of daily and weekly safe limits.

All of this requires public education and strict, enforceable laws on the licensing and sale of alcohol. Individuals must take personal responsibility for their drinking habits.  So what can you do to control your drinking? If you or a loved one think you are drinking too much, seek help.

You may already be addicted and the only way out is professional help. There are all sorts of therapists who are trained to help people with addictions. Then there are self-help groups, Alcoholics Anonymous is one, but there are others.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist.


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