The ladettes who match the men

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THE ladettes of the North-East were today branded with a European record for all the wrong reasons.

Women from areas including Hartlepool are now drinking so much that they are just as likely to binge drink as men.

The unenviable record – and the rapid increase in female drinking rates – were today branded as “staggering” by a campaigner against over-indulgence.

Sue Taylor, partnership manager at Balance, which campaigns to raise awareness about North-East drinking rates, said: “Drinking can make women vulnerable. It increases the risk of accidents, of becoming a victim of crime or even getting involved in criminal activity.

“A significant number of women are also putting their health at risk by drinking too much.

“Our research shows that 32 per cent of people in the North-East believe that it is reasonable for a woman to drink two glasses of wine five nights a week.

“However, drinking this amount can have severe health consequences. It is possible for alcohol to be enjoyed as part of a night out, but it is important not to take it to the extreme.”

British women came out top in a new European study into binge drinking.

The study led by Irwin Nazareth at University College London, revealed that women in the UK topped a poll for binge drinking (7.7 per cent) and that they are now as likely to binge on alcohol as men.

In the North-East almost a third of females are consuming at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis.

This can result in serious and life-threatening health problem. One in five people in the North- East also binge drink which equates to a woman drinking two large glasses of wine in one sitting.

The Government’s recommended daily limits advise that women should drink no more than two to three units of alcohol a day. Women drinking at or above these limits on a daily or almost daily basis are:

l 50 per cent more likely to be at risk of breast cancer.

l Twice as likely to get cancer of the mouth.

l Almost twice as likely to get liver cirrhosis.

Sue added: “Alcohol related deaths in women across the region have increased by a staggering 176 per cent over the last two decades which is more than double the national average. If we are to improve health and quality of life in the North East, we need to change people’s attitudes and drinking behaviour.”

“It’s time to drop this ladette image, change our perception of alcohol and reduce the risk to our health. We would encourage women across the region to think about how much they are drinking and the associated risks – and cut down where possible.”

SIDEBAR.

Women and drinking – the facts

Women’s bodies react to alcohol in a different way to men’s. Women are generally smaller than men, and they have on average 10 per cent more fat. This means there’s less body fluid to dilute alcohol, so it travels around women’s bodies in a more concentrated form.

Women’s livers produce less of the substance the body uses to break alcohol down (an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase). This means women not only get drunk quicker but the effects last longer - which is why the recommended limits are different for men and women.

Women’s livers are smaller and can’t repair themselves as quickly as men’s - so it takes women longer to recover from the damage of drinking more than the recommended limits.

For two or three days before a period, and during ovulation, women will feel the effects of alcohol more quickly. The pill has the opposite effect, delaying the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and delaying the time it takes to leave your body. If you’re on the pill, you won’t be as aware of the effect of alcohol and so may drink more than you realise.

Studies have shown that women who drink lots are less likely to achieve pregnancy. The best advice is, if you want to conceive, avoid alcohol completely.

There are almost 200 calories in a large glass of wine. At seven calories per gram, alcohol is stuffed with more calories than many foods. Plus, drinks may contain sugar on top of that the alcohol.  And don’t forget, alcohol stimulates our appetite but reduces our self-control, making it far too easy to eat too much.

Replacing food with alcohol can leave you overweight but malnourished. What’s more, once alcohol has damaged the liver, the body can’t process the food we eat properly. This means less essential nutrients for our bodies to use.