6 Feb 2016

What alcohol does to us

From This Way Up, 1:45 pm on 6 February 2016
beer lineup

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski / CC BY-SA 2.0

Consuming alcohol is linked to more than 60 diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke, birth defects and mental health issues. So how much is too much?

Well, in the UK what has been called the biggest shake-up to Britain's alcohol guidelines in 20 years has just taken place. The key change? Recommended safe drinking guidelines for men have been revised downwards to 14 units or 112 grams of alcohol a week, this makes them the same as the recommended limits for women.

Professor Ian Shaw

Professor Ian Shaw Photo: Supplied

That's different to the situation here in New Zealand where safe drinking guidelines differ for men and women – no more than 10 standard drinks or 100 grams of alcohol a week for women and 15 drinks or 150 grams for men, and in both cases the recommendations are that you have at least two alcohol-free days every week. So what does alcohol do to our bodies when we drink?

Toxicologist Ian Shaw explains how the body processes booze, and how drinking too much can do us damage.