Isn't it funny how adept we are at only seeing what we want to see, and hearing what we want to hear? When I was a terrible smoker I was confronted multiple times a day with the health warnings. I'd seen endless pairs of blackened, diseased lungs. I knew that half of all smokers will eventually die as a result of their habit. La la la la la (hands over ears).
But now I look at young women smoking outside bars and I want to scream "What are you doing?!? Don't you know how bad that is for you? Do you really think it looks sexy?" And it's only now that the health implications of drinking are starting to hit home.
If you're just lurking and haven't yet quit, then you may as well stop reading now because I bet this will not sink in yet. Too many years of ignoring the statistics! Come back to it another time.
If, however, you are one of the alcohol free, then here - my friend - is the bullet that you have, I hope, missed....
Yesterday I posted about how, in the 1990s, women began to see drinking alcohol as a form of liberation and emancipation (see Women and Alcohol - a Deadly Relationship). We matched the men drink for drink at the University bars, over romantic dinners and at work functions.
And often those men were drinking beer, while we were drinking strong wine, or flavoured vodka shots. We forgot that, whilst we may be their equals (and more!) mentally, we will never be their equals physically.
Because we have less body fat than men, a lower level of a key metabolising enzyme that helps us break down alcohol, and oestrogen intensifies the effect of alcohol, we become dependent on alcohol much faster than men.
And alcoholism is, apparently, twice as deadly for women as it is for men. Alcohol dependant women are 4.6 times more likely to die young, as opposed to men who are 1.9 times more likely. On average these women will die twenty years earlier than those not dependant on alcohol.
Ian Gilmore ex president of the Royal College of Physicians says "In the thirty years I have been a liver specialist, the striking difference is this: liver cirrhosis was a disease of elderly men - I have seen a girl as young as seventeen and women in their twenties with end-stage liver disease. Alcohol dependence is setting in when youngsters are still in their teens. This mirrors what we saw with tobacco, when women caught up with men on lung cancer." (see also Livers and Mojos)
Women who consume four or more alcoholic drinks a day quadruple their risk of dying from heart disease, and are five times more likely to have a stroke. Excessive alcohol consumption is also linked to many cancers - particularly breast cancer.
Globally, one in 5 deaths from alcohol are due to cancer. A study by Oxford University suggests that the relative risk of developing breast cancer increases by 7.1% for every unit of alcohol you drink per day.
So, if you're finding the not drinking thing difficult today, just think - is that one glass of vino (which we know will just lead to another, and another, and another) worth twenty years of your life? Is it worth burdening yourself and your family with the horrific treatment for breast cancer?
Pass me the hot chocolate!
Happy, healthy days to you all!