Middle aged mums are Britain's worst hidden drinkers. So screamed the headline on a Telegraph news story this week.
Gulp. (That's a nervous sip of tea, by the way, not an awkward plug of wine.)
At first glance you might assume this tells us what we already know - that increasing numbers of frazzled mums are reaching for the gin or declaring it wine o'clock the moment the kids are in bed.
But actually this story relates to a new study which found that middle-aged mums whose kids have flown the nest are the "fastest-growing group of hazardous drinkers".
That's according to a YouGov survey of 500 mums (aged 45 and over) whose children had left home. Of those surveyed, 28 per cent admitted to drinking more than their grown-up children do.
The paper reports:
"Two-fifths admit drinking as much or more than their grown-up children, according to a poll, while a quarter say they have increased their alcohol intake since their children flew the nest. While young people are drinking less, preferring to binge on weekends than drink every day, their mothers are more likely to consume alcohol on a daily basis at home."
I'm not going to attempt to interpret this data but I wonder if what it points to, in part at least, is the revival of many a mum's social life once her kids leave home. It makes sense that you might drink more once your daily life no longer revolves around the routine and demands of being a mum, but it's worth considering that letting your hair down once the kids leave home might not be harmless and could be hazardous to your health.
Dr Phillip Harrison, a leading Consultant Hepatologist at London Bridge Hospital, says finished admission episodes with a primary diagnosis of cirrhosis in English NHS hospitals rose from 3783 in 2005/06 to 5621 in 2014/15 - that's an increase of 48.6%.
He says: "Hazardous drinking is a major cause of liver disease, with nearly half of the liver-related hospital admissions in England being for people with alcohol-related liver injury."
"Currently, men account for over two thirds of admissions for alcohol-related liver disease and it would be tragic if more women start to drink hazardously, (hazardously being defined as drinking above the recommended lower-risk levels but without showing evidence of harm to health at that time)."
Dr Harrison adds that lower-risk is drinking for men is no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day on a regular basis and no more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day on a regular basis for women.
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