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Violante Gardini of Donatella Colombini

Alcohol, why women must drink less than men

Gender, age, diet, all these affect the quantity of wine one can drink but there is a rigid rule for all: drink small amounts and often to stay healthy

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini


Alcohol-the-after-effect-for women-and-men

Sometimes in the wine world you meet some very unexpected interesting and surprising people, more than one would imagine. This has happened to me this year during the Preview Tuscan tastings when I met the journalist Michael Apstein . He asked me to arrange a visit to the DOC Orcia wineries so that he could write an article for the British wine magazine “Decanter”, only two days beforehand. My husband and I went to pick him up in San Gimignano and in the car I pointed out <you don’t have a British accent> <no> he says <I am from Boston I am a doctor, I thought gastroenterology>. Well, I thought, Boston is where Harvard is and it’s the city of the Nobel prizes , this must be some guy! And in fact when he sent me his article about alcohol consumption I finally understood why doctors say “it depends” when asked what the advised amount is.

The whole article can be found here :https://bit.ly/2SQKqGd

At last, even though of scientific content, it is written so as to be understood by all of us.



Women-and-wine-Violante -in -a wine-tasting

A 80kg male who drinks wine regularly and has just consumed two glasses of wine during a proper meal eaten leisurely over two hours will have a BAC level that is dramatically lower than that of a 60kg woman who drinks only occasionally and has polished off those two glasses quickly without eating.

Scientists have not understood yet why but women break down less alcohol in the stomach, which means that more passes into the small intestine where it is absorbed. The end result is that a woman, despite drinking an equal quantity of alcohol at the same rate as a man, will have a higher BAC


A 60-year old man or woman will have a higher BAC than a 25-year-old drinking the same amount of alcohol. As individuals age, their livers – and maybe their stomachs – contain less of the enzymes that break down alcohol. And to make matters worse, as people age, their bodies lose water and gain fat


drinking wine with a meal (as opposed to drinking it on an empty stomach) results in the alcohol staying longer in the stomach, allowing more of it to be broken down. As a result, less alcohol reaches the small intestine and less is absorbed into the blood.

So the BAC is lower in individuals who drink wine with meals than it is in those who drink it on an empty stomach



Part of the problem in estimating BAC when drinking wines produced in the US is the discrepancy between the wine’s stated and real alcohol content. Although EU regulations permit a tolerance of plus or minus 0.5%, looser US regulations allow a tolerance of plus or minus 1.5% of alcohol for wines under 14% alcohol and plus or minus 1% for wines over 14%. Hence, a US wine label recording alcohol concentration as 13.5% means that the wine could, in fact, contain 15% alcohol


Drinking vast quantities of water won’t do it because normal kidney function prevents you from increasing body water into which the alcohol could be diluted. Drinking coffee or taking other stimulants may make you ‘feel’ more alert, but has no effect on BAC. Even consuming a large, rich meal after drinking is ineffective – the horse has already bolted. The normal liver will continue to break down alcohol at a rate of about eight grams (one unit) an hour. So the only way to reduce BAC after drinking is to wait

Michael Apstein MD is a gastroenterologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.


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