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your drinking

Am I drinking
too much?

Find out what a standard drink really is, and keep track of how much you've had.

What is a standard drink? In Ireland a standard drink has about 10 grams of pure alcohol in it. In the UK a standard drink, also called a unit of alcohol, has about 8 grams of pure alcohol.

What are the low-risk drinking guidelines? Low risk weekly guidelines for adults are:

11 standard drinks
in a week for women
17 standard drinks
in a week for men

some examples of a standard drink

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alcohol & health

How does alcohol
affect me?

01 Brain

Alcohol interferes with the chemicals in the brain’s control system. The effect alcohol has on our brain makes us drunk, but it can also cause longer lasting or even permanent damage to our brains.

For example:

  • Mood changes
  • Learning and concentration difficulties
  • Mental health problems like anxiety and depression
  • Poor memory, dementia
  • Alcohol related brain injuries

Read more about alcohol and the brain.

Alcohol interferes with the chemicals in the brain’s control system. The effect alcohol has on our brain makes us drunk, but it can also cause longer lasting or even permanent damage to our brains.

For example:

  • Mood changes
  • Learning and concentration difficulties
  • Mental health problems like anxiety and depression
  • Poor memory, dementia
  • Alcohol related brain injuries

Read more about alcohol and the brain.

02 Cancer

Alcohol is a carcinogen – a cancer-causing substance. The more we drink, the greater our risk of alcohol-related cancer. Alcohol causes 7 types of cancer, especially in parts of the body that come into contact with alcohol like the mouth, throat, oesophagus and liver. Even a small amount of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer. 1 standard drink a day could increase the risk of breast cancer by 5%. And the risk increases the more a woman drinks. Smoking as well as drinking alcohol increases the risk of certain cancers even more.

Learn more about alcohol and cancer

Alcohol is a carcinogen – a cancer-causing substance. The more we drink, the greater our risk of alcohol-related cancer. Alcohol causes 7 types of cancer, especially in parts of the body that come into contact with alcohol like the mouth, throat, oesophagus and liver. Even a small amount of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer. 1 standard drink a day could increase the risk of breast cancer by 5%. And the risk increases the more a woman drinks. Smoking as well as drinking alcohol increases the risk of certain cancers even more.

Learn more about alcohol and cancer

03 Liver

Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is liver damage caused by alcohol. ARLD happens in stages

  • Fatty liver
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)

ARLD doesn’t normally cause any symptoms until the later stages. This means you may not know you have liver disease until serious damage is done. Severe liver damage is irreversible. Alcohol is also one of the main risk factors for liver cancer.

Learn more about alcohol’s effects on the liver

Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is liver damage caused by alcohol. ARLD happens in stages

  • Fatty liver
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)

ARLD doesn’t normally cause any symptoms until the later stages. This means you may not know you have liver disease until serious damage is done. Severe liver damage is irreversible. Alcohol is also one of the main risk factors for liver cancer.

Learn more about alcohol’s effects on the liver

04 Pancreas

Alcohol can cause painful inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatisis. The inflammation can be short-lived (acute pancreatisis) or a long-term condition (chronic pancreatisis).

Chronic pancreatitis is hard to treat and can cause pain and other complications. A third of people with chronic (long-term) pancreatitis also develop type 2 diabetes. It also increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Learn more about alcohol’s effects on the pancreas and diabetes.

Alcohol can cause painful inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatisis. The inflammation can be short-lived (acute pancreatisis) or a long-term condition (chronic pancreatisis).

Chronic pancreatitis is hard to treat and can cause pain and other complications. A third of people with chronic (long-term) pancreatitis also develop type 2 diabetes. It also increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Learn more about alcohol’s effects on the pancreas and diabetes.

05 Heart

Alcohol can cause

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, causing a strain on your heart
  • Weakened heart muscles
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Circulation problems
  • Strokes and heart failure

High blood pressure is the most common alcohol related health problem, but many people don’t realise they have it.

Learn more about alcohol’s effects on the heart.

Alcohol can cause

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, causing a strain on your heart
  • Weakened heart muscles
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Circulation problems
  • Strokes and heart failure

High blood pressure is the most common alcohol related health problem, but many people don’t realise they have it.

Learn more about alcohol’s effects on the heart.

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