Alcohol facts and other truths

Earlier we talked about all the myths going around about alcohol; today we stick to the facts. Some facts are clear, others may come as a surprise. Senior researcher into alcohol addiction Rob Bovens shines his light on several facts.

Fact: The older you get, the worse your tolerance for alcohol is

“As the years go by, the body will process alcohol less easily. This is because the aging body changes. Due to the decrease in body water and an increase in body fat, plus a reduced function of the liver, people have a lower tolerance for alcohol and a faster intoxication. That results in organ damage relatively sooner.” What do people notice about this in practice? “They are less resistant to alcohol. This applies even more to women in the menopause, because hormonal changes are taking place. After the transition, this will improve again.”

Fact: The older you get, the more you drink

“As the age increases, the alcohol consumption of the Dutch increases. Someone under the age of 25 drinks on average two to three times a week. That increases every decade. For example, people aged 65 and older drink alcohol on average five to six times a week. This is apparent from research among participants in IkPas.”

Fact (in part): A glass of wine or beer relaxes

“It can indeed help with the stress, at least the first glass. Alcohol is a dampening substance, so it also dampens unpleasant feelings such as tension. But if you continue to drink or use it regularly, you increase the risk of tension.”

Fact: Alcohol increases the risk of cancer

“That applies to different types of cancer. It does not matter what type of alcohol you drink: beer, red wine or spirits. The risk of breast cancer in particular increases, even with one glass a day. The digestive system is also a known danger zone. Gastroenterologists will always ask about your alcohol consumption when you have complaints. According to the World Health Organization WHO, there are two hundred diseases in which alcohol plays a role to a greater or lesser extent.”

Fact (in part): Alcohol is a great nightcap

“People who drink alcohol before going to bed do indeed fall asleep faster. We know this from our sleep study, in which participants keep a diary, among other things. They report that they fall asleep easily, but they often sleep more restlessly afterwards than without alcohol. They sleep lighter, wake up more often, have to go to the toilet several times.”

Source:  / Interview: Marieke van Twillert



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