Alcohol and Men

In the UK, 2-in-5 men (40%) drink more than the recommended daily limit of four units at least once a week. A quarter (23%) drink twice the recommended limit.

A quarter of deaths in men aged under 34 can be attributed to alcohol. If you think alcohol only causes health problems later in life, you are mistaken.

Many men remain unaware of the long-term risks of drinking too much alcohol. Only a third (36%) are aware of the link between alcohol and some forms of cancer (including breast, bowel, kidney, mouth and oesophagal cancers). While awareness among women rose from 35% to 42% last year, the figure for men remained unchanged.

1-in-5 men develop a drinking problem. Men are twice as likely as women to abuse alcohol or become dependent on alcohol. 1-in-10 men (9%) are “at risk” drinkers, who drink more than 50 units per week.

Drinking too much alcohol has specific health implications for men …

Beer belly

It is a myth that beer causes beer bellies. A 2003 study by British researchers from University College London looked at the link between the amount of beer 2,000 Czechs drank (Czechs are among the world’s biggest beer drinkers) and the size of their stomachs. They found no link, but that doesn’t mean that alcohol won’t make you put on weight elsewhere. Alcohol is packed with ’empty’ calories, and men’s favourite tipples – beer and cider – are the worst offenders. A pint of either usually has 200-300 calories, about the same as a bar of chocolate.

Fertility and impotence

Alcohol can reduce male fertility by lowering sperm counts and testosterone levels. One in ten doctors blame low male-fertility on alcohol. More than three-quarters (80%) of men who drink heavily are believed to experience serious sexual side effects, including impotence, sterility, or loss of sexual desire. Men’s sexual performance will be harmed, if they regularly drink more than recommended units. In the long term, they may have difficulty getting an erection.


Excessive long-term drinking in men may cause withering of the testicles, enlargement of the breasts, and loss of hair on the body. Heavy-drinking can also worsen skin disorders like rosacea, which causes blood-vessels in the face to expand, making your face permanently redder. It can also cause inflamed red-bumps and pus-spots.


Gout is an arthritic condition that causes inflammation, swelling and pain in your joints. Gout is most common in men aged 30-60 and is linked to drinking alcohol. A study conducted at a hospital in Massachusetts in 2004, tracked 47,150 men without gout over 12 years to see if they would develop the condition. The 730 men who did get gout drank more than those who did not.

More generally, because alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the brain and affects your body’s responses. Drinking just a bit more than you should, over time, can seriously harm your liver. Binge-drinking especially is a risk factor in developing heart-disease, while alcohol is a leading cause of throat and mouth cancer, second only to tobacco. Alcohol is also linked to bowel and liver-cancer. Drinking too much can cause Type-2 diabetes, bone-disease, and make your pancreas and stomach inflamed. Last, but not least, alcohol is linked to anxiety and depression.


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