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MOST people have probably indulged themselves a little too much on their summer holiday - particularly when it came to the odd drink. And it's all too easy to continue drinking at the same rate when you're back home.

Figures show that 14 pc of women drink 20 glasses of wine - or 20 units of alcohol - a week, while a similar number of men drink 16 pints of lager or spirit shots (32 units) a week. Both are double the safe alcohol levels of ten units a week for women and 16 for men. BECKY MORRIS looks at the effects on the body if those levels are sustained over a month.


MENTAL HEALTH ONE in six women suffers from depression in their lifetime, and alcohol can exacerbate this. 'Alcohol is a stimulant in the short term but a depressant in the long term,' says Dr Sarah Jarvis of Alcohol Concern. If you drink too much for a month, it will leave you feeling more depressed. And if you use alcohol to escape existing depression, you will only make it worse, she warns.

WEIGHT ALCOHOL causes weight gain because it is rich in calories. Dry white wine has 85 calories a glass, champagne 95 and sweet white wine 120. So a 20-glass-a-week habit could mean an extra 1,700 calories a week - or 7,300 a month.

Every 3,500 extra calories cause a 1lb weight gain, so a 20-glass-a-week drinker could gain 2lb in a month on dry white wine, or nearly 3lb on sweet white wine.

'Alcohol can also disrupt your eating patterns because it causes blood sugar to drop,' says Lyndel Costain of the British Dietetic Association.

'This can cause people to get the "munchies" after an evening's drinking or on the morning after, leading you to eat unhealthy things such as kebabs or a fried breakfast.' SKIN WOMEN'S skin is thinner than men's, so the effects of drinking on the complexion are more marked. Alcohol also dilates blood capillaries which can cause the face to flush while drinking.

'After a month of drinking at this kind of level, your general ill-health will almost certainly show in your skin, in terms of lack of condition, dryness, spots and other blemishes,' says Dr Jarvis.

PANCREAS INFLAMMATION of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, can occur in as little as a month, depending on your genetic makeup. Women's pancreas are 50 pc more vulnerable to alcohol damage than men's.

Symptoms include severe pain in the upper abdomen, with nausea and vomiting.

Chronic pancreatitis can cause permanent damage to the pancreas and result in it having to be surgically removed. …