Ask DrinkPlanner is a reoccurring feature here where readers submit their questions, and the crack team at DrinkPlanner does our best to answer. Got a question about booze? Ask us!
Farts and tulips. Here it is.
“Hello there and congrats for the very interesting site.
The point of my e-mail is a question I’d like to make about the amount of whiskey I drink daily. I usually drink around 180ml (just 6 oz) of whiskey (40% volume) per day but sometimes reach 400ml (13 US fluid oz) or 700ml (23 oz). Do you think it’s an excessive amount? I have 2-3 alcohol free days per week. I’m worried about the liver mostly; I wouldn’t like to destroy it that early (I’m 32), I want to keep on drinking to senility.
Only the Sober Die Young”
Are you sure you really want the answer to this? I mean, I understand being concerned about health, but on the other hand if I thought someone might tell me “Sorry, you shouldn’t drink for the rest of your life or you’ll die” I might not want to know that. Let me die drunk and happy, that’s all I’m sayin’.
So do you want the good or the bad news first? Let’s start out with the good news, shall we?
Lucky for you, the liver is quite possibly the best-healing and regenerative organ in the entire body. Damage done to the liver (up to a point) can easily be reversed by simply giving it a break. Unless scarring and fatty buildup of the liver occur. However you choose to punish your liver (for it is evil, as we all know) can be reversed to a positive by the mere passing of time, much like William Shatner’s career.
Unfortunately for you, that’s pretty much the end of the good news. The bad news is as follows:
1. Some Damage to the Liver is Permanent – Much like tattoos and blood oaths with Satan, some damage you do to the liver can stay forever. Binge drinking can cause scarring and fatty deposits to form, which cause those portions of the liver to not be able to properly process booze. The effect is an increased sensitivity to alcohol, and eventually cirrhosis and then complete liver failure, which I don’t think I need to tell you isn’t good. The levels you’re sometimes drinking at (700ml is almost an entire bottle of whiskey!) are indeed high enough to cause some permanent damage, especially if you’re hitting that mark more than once or twice a month. The 2-3 day per week rest is a good time-out for your liver, but when you drink that much it doesn’t matter, because once it hits that level of “irreversible damage” you’re pretty much screwed. However…
This came up when I Googled “liver”…
2. Heredity Plays a Big Factor – Not that you have any control over this, but some are blessed with livers of indefatigable resilience, and others are cursed with livers that get all cancer-y and cirrhosis-y and fail on them. It’s totally up to you if you want to play this game with your liver, but unlike possibly the best game ever Super Mario Bros. 3, there are no cheats for 99 lives or Tanooki suits to make you stone-like and invulnerable. I’m sorry if the movie “The Wizard” fooled you.
3. You’re Over the Limit – The “safe zone” per week for an adult male tops out at 3 drinks a day (14-27 drinks per week, depending on weight and other factors). And that’s “doctor” drinks, which are 1-1.5 oz of hard liquor per drink, not the heavy pours that most of us do. From what you’re telling me, you’re almost topping that limit some days, not to mention your weekly intake. As I said, your 2-3 day breaks in the week certainly help, but when you’re pushing the limits like that, you’re probably doing some irreversible damage.
So did this…GROSS
4. Your Liver is the Least of Your Concerns – Again, unfortunately, your liver isn’t actually the first organ to suffer from transcendent levels of boozing. Your brain and heart take the hits first. As I mentioned earlier with the liver, some healing can happen, but neither of these organs have the go-get-’em that the liver has.
So yeah, with the numbers you’ve given me, I might tone it down a bit, OTSDY. I admire your chutzpah, but I think you might be doing some long-term damage to yourself, and it’s my duty as a boozer to keep as many of us alive as long as possible. Some contract I signed or something. I’m not saying you should never ever indulge in a bender now and then, but that the day-to-day consumption should maybe slow down so that those 2- or 3- or 76- day long benders can be enjoyed as God intended.
And so goes another bittersweet episode of Ask DrinkPlanner. Got a question about booze or whatever? Ask DrinkPlanner!
Hello and thanks for taking the time to answer that extensively.
The 500/700ml is not a daily (or even weekly) habit. I usually drink something around 180 to 400ml. Let’s say average is 150-200ml. What does your experience says? Is that extreme? I find it hard to drink less than that, I just don’t get that “well-being” feeling alcohol gives; it’s easier for me to just quit.
Kurt, I’d say you’re at the top end of what the limits are for healthy, maybe a bit over. Depending on your heredity you could have a super-liver and may be just fine and your liver could take all the punishment you give it and more. Or you could have a liver that’s not as willing to take a beating and you could be seriously damaging it. If you’re concerned, there are some pretty simple ways your doctor can test your liver health and let you know where you stand.
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