Why alcohol easily affects someone

Monday January 18 2021
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By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

 I am concerned that my wife is easily intoxicated with alcohol. Why? Kasimbazi
 
Dear Kasimbazi,
When taken, alcohol reduces the brain, resulting in one losing calmness, getting excited and quarrelsome apart from other effects. The time taken to show the various effects of alcohol may, however, vary with individuals and the amount of alcohol consumed, the rate of consumption, gender (women being affected before men), age, body weight, and whether one imbibed on an empty stomach or not.

When consumed, alcohol is broken down by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase into substances which do not intoxicate. Although this starts in the stomach, most of the breakdown is done by the liver. Women have less of this enzyme, hence getting drunk more easily than men. Also, women have more body fat, which holds on to alcohol longer out of reach of the enzymes that break it down.

Female hormones slow down the breakdown of alcohol so that when the hormone levels are high during the period preceding menstruation, or when a woman is taking hormonal contraceptives, she is more likely to get easily drunk. 
Having less body water to dilute alcohol, women will have a higher concentration of alcohol in their blood when they drink. Adult women are only 52 per cent compared to adult men who are 62 per cent water.

Because of the factors that make women get more easily drunk than men, they are also more prone to experiencing alcohol-related health problems including addiction, liver disease and damage to the heart and nerve.   

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