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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why My Liver is NOT my Best Feature

Ever a contradiction.... I am a cheap date. When it comes to my footwear, it can take a mortgage payment to make me happy. When it comes to alcohol, a glass of wine is all it takes to have me slurring my words. Having a very low tolerance to alcohol can often prove to be quite economical.

Think about it.... there you are at relatively mind numbing cocktail party swallowing glass after glass of wine into your belly in the hopes that it will dull the pain. The pints of "social lubricant" pour into you and you wait for them to take effect. You are on a blind date and he/she is less than you had hoped for.... you begin to order cocktails before the food arrives in the hope that the booze will have their way with you well before he/she will.

What does it take my dear cyber sisters? Three cocktails? Four shots of tequila? A half of a bottle of wine? For me it is blissfully one glass of wine. Yes 120 meagre calories and a 10 minute time lapse and I no longer can feel my bottom lip. It truly is one of my strengths. Yes, this "party trick" has several benefits:

1. I have never had the opportunity to be an alcoholic. One glass and I'm drunk, two and I have passed out. I am never conscious enough to build up a tolerance long enough to make drinking an addiction let alone a habit.

2. The pain of a bad dinner party/Christmas Party/Family function is easy anaesthetised by COUNT IT! one drink! GENIUS!

3. Ever a fan of HEALTHY LIVING and always one to count calories.... I can spend my nutritional "Food points" on cake instead of booze.
4. My "candy-assed" liver has saved me a fortune in shoe money. Call me crazy but I will take a pare of Louboutin open toed four inch heels over a 50 year old bottle of scotch any day of the week.

Take Saturday night for example... There my beloved and I were sampling this city's apparently newest and finest in restaurant dining. Now I won't name names because I know every new dining establishment has to go through it's "growing pains". The french onion soup kicked ass.... the service was crap and the lemon tart was baby food. That being said, I had two glasses of Reisling and so the evening was PHENOMENAL!

Make no mistake, in high school, my amateur liver was a curse. What 16 year old girl in the 1980's wants to be seen worshiping a porcelain god at a weekend party when all of her classmates seem to be handling tequila shots like masters of the universe?

Twenty years later comes the wisdom of ones thirties and again like many of the things that made me unsettled in my youth (my big hair, my unibrow, my odd phone voice), I am able to see my juvenile liver as a strength and not a short coming.

From a health perspective, it turns out that my liver has done more than just buy me a few pairs of strappy sandals.

A recent study published in 2009 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute called the Million Women study looked at the incidence of a variety of diseases in women followed prospectively since 1996. The study has shown that even low (less than 4 drink per week) to moderate (1 drink per day) alcohol consumption in women increased the risk of certain cancers. For every additional drink regularly consumed per day, the increase in incidence up to age 75 years per 1000 for women in developed countries is estimated to be about 11 for breast cancer, 1 for cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, 1 for cancer of the rectum, and 0.7 each for cancers of the esophagus, larynx and liver, giving a total excess of about 15 cancers per 1000 women up to age 75.

That being said there are still a variety of studies showing that low to moderate (up to 1 drink per day) consumption of alcohol may help to prevent heart disease. The studies are stronger in men than in women. That being said, more than one drink a day increases blood pressure, (by as much as 5-10 millimetres of mercury), can increase blood sugars, increases the risk of obesity and high cholesterol (mostly triglycerides).

So... what is a girl/liver to do? Well.... yes in all things not shoe related, moderation seems to prevail. And so, I will continue to rely on the bike and not the bottle to reduce my risk of heart disease lest I find myself drunkety drunk drunk each night after only one glass. It will be yet another healthy feather in my cap placed more out of necessity than fashion sense.

And so I leave you my dear girlfriends to yet another week of contemplation. A glass a day... no more. I myself, after a long day of work am going to sit down, put my feet up and pour myself a big beautiful glass of..... Pellegrino.

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