It’s been a long, stressful day at the office, and for many people this means one thing – having a drink to ‘unwind’. Maybe a few pints at the pub with work mates is appealing after a gruelling day, or perhaps a few glasses of wine in the evening each night with a meal is how others choose to relax.
One or two drinks each evening may seem innocent enough and simply a customary part of one’s evening. After all, there is no harm in kicking back with a few beers each night after work right? Wrong…
There are multiple hidden dangers of long-term alcohol consumption, and what seems like a few harmless drinks every night is actually disastrous for the body – both inside and out.
Everybody knows about the staggering number calories contained in most alcoholic drinks. Simply put, those who consume alcohol are consuming empty calories with no nutritional value.
It may be shocking to learn that just a single glass of wine contains around the same number of calories contained in four cookies, and a pint of lager is roughly as calorie-laden as a slice of pizza.
For the heavier drinkers, it will be frightening to learn that the NHS Livewell website’s alcohol page states that just drinking five pints of lager each week can tally up to 44,200kcal over the course of a year – or eating about 221 doughnuts. This may go some way to explaining Homer Simpson’s rotund belly. After all, the Springfield native has a penchant for both beer and doughnuts!
It is suddenly easier to understand the role alcohol plays in the increasingly problematic UK obesity crisis and why the health problems linked to being overweight or obese are costing the NHS over £5 billion each and every year.
And alcohol plays a part in helping people to easily gain weight with its calorific nature. Maybe lager isn’t your preferred choice of tipple and surely wine is kinder on the waistline? Wrong again! Just two large glasses of white wine takes up about fifth of the recommended daily calorie intake for a woman. That could force people into a rethink before opening that second bottle of wine in the future.
In addition, alcohol is fat-sparing. This means that the body will look to burn it for its fuel source before fat. This means when alcohol is drank to excess of the body’s daily energy requirements, it suddenly becomes much more difficult for the body to burn up fat. Thus, more fat is stored, and weight is gained.
As well as weight gain, alcohol – in particularly alcohol abuse – is associated with a whole host of serious health problems. The NHS Change 4 Life’s alcohol’s hidden harms page provides both an excellent, and alarming list of health risks associated with alcohol.
For instance, regularly consuming alcohol above the lower risk guidelines can lead to cancers of the throat, oesophagus or larynx, breast cancer in women, high blood pressure, heart attack, a stroke, liver disease such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, pancreatitis and impaired fertility.
The impact to health extends beyond the deadly diseases. ‘Brewers droop’ may be a term laughed off amongst friends, as purely an isolated occurrence of male impotence from the result of drinking too much. However, alcohol usually always results in sexual problems in a relationship. For men, this equates to difficulty getting and sustaining an erection – even when sober. This is because short and long term of drinking too much alcohol can damage the body’s tissues. Most commonly affected are those in the brain, liver and nervous system, and often leaving the male with erectile dysfunction.
Male impotence can be disastrous for relationships and leave the man with a huge loss of self-esteem, confidence and can even lead to anxiety and depression. Depressed people often turn to alcohol to cope, but this is completely inadvisable.
Not only is alcohol a depressant, meaning you are probably going to end up more miserable than you started off, but then the potential weight gain and sexual dysfunction will only further increase the mental anxieties. Medical Specialists™ Pharmacy provide treatments for both weight gain (Xenical, XLS-Medical), and erectile dysfunction (Generic Sildenafil, Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Vitaros Cream, etc.) will can help to regain confidence in your social and private life.
The good news is there are many wonderful benefits to reap from cutting down on alcohol intake. Reducing – or even giving up altogether – alcohol will leave the skin looking clearer, suddenly those previously waking up tired every day may have more energy, and there is the financial aspect of course.
Alcoholic drinks can be incredibly expensive and by cutting down, this will save possibly hundreds of pounds each year. The most important reason for cutting back on the booze is obviously the major health benefits to be had, but surely the thought of being able to treat yourself to things that were previously unaffordable is tempting enough to cut back or even banish the booze completely!
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A cancer diagnosis is crushing and treatment is often harrowing. Yet millions of people survive cancer and resume normal lives. This is particularly true of prostate cancer which, according to the American Cancer Society, will affect one in seven American men but which when detected early, as 80% of prostate cancers are, has a five-year survival rate of nearly 100% and a ten-year survival rate of 99%. Prostate cancer is a serious illness but most men diagnosed with the disease do not die from it. There are 2.5 million men alive in the U.S. today who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
“After the ordeal of diagnosis and treatment, men and their partners look forward to life returning to normal,” says clinical psychologist and relationship specialist Dr. Daniel Watter of Morris Psychological Group, “and indeed it does in many respects. But most men treated for prostate cancer suffer a disruption in either libido or sexual function – or both – that may be temporary or may be long-lasting. It’s important for the couple to communicate openly with each other and with his medical team both before treatment to be prepared for possible side effects and after treatment to adjust to the physical and emotional impact on their relationship.”
Most early-stage prostate cancers are treated in one of three ways: surgery to remove the prostate gland, radiation from an external beam, or radioactive seed implants. The choice of treatment is based on several factors including overall health, the size and location of the tumor, and consideration of the potential side effects of each option. While some sexual side effects are common with all treatments, surgery is most likely to cause long-lasting erectile dysfunction. That’s because the nerves responsible for an erection are very close to the prostate gland. Surgery often cuts them and radiation sometimes damages them. Depending on the location of the tumor, an approach called nerve-sparing surgery may reduce the risk and severity of post-surgical ED but doesn’t usually eliminate it entirely. Some men recover erectile function over a period of months or even years as nerve tissues heal and those who have had nerve-sparing surgery may regain function with the help of ED medications such as Viagra and Cialis. Other ED remedies, including penile rehabilitation, vacuum devices, and implants have varying degrees of success and side effects.
“Erectile dysfunction and issues related to sexual intimacy can be challenging for couples in the best of circumstances,” says Dr. Watter. “In the midst of the anxiety and stress of a cancer diagnosis and choices to be made about treatment, sex may seem like the least important issue facing a couple. But those who face it early – as treatment options are being weighed – and with open, honest discussion from the outset, will have the most likelihood of successfully restoring sexual intimacy after treatment.”
Tips for Patients and their Partners
Dr. Watter sees the restoration of intimacy as a process that will have successes and failures over time. He offers some advice to couples embarking on the journey:
Address the challenges as a couple: It should go without saying that loss of intimacy is not a problem only for the patient. His partner must be fully committed to the goal, must accept that things may not be the same as before, and must be willing to explore new options that redefine intimacy. Together they will learn that while their sex life may change, their relationship may ultimately be closer than before.
Be persistent…and keep your sense of humor: Don’t expect too much too soon. There will be disappointments. Not every option will work for every couple. For example, ED solutions like medication that improve blood flow do not work when the nerves have been cut. Other solutions may fail initially but ultimately be successful or vice versa.
Sexual satisfaction is possible without an erection: Vanquishing ED is not the only route to sexual satisfaction. Different nerves control erection and orgasm; even without an erection, orgasm is possible. And even without orgasm, emotional and physical intimacy can be maintained. Don’t let confusion or embarrassment prevent you from talking about the possibilities and seeking help.
“The most important bit of advice is to keep the lines of communication open, even when – especially when – it is difficult,” Dr. Watter concludes. “Most men lead long, fulfilling lives after prostate cancer and have satisfying intimate relationships. As long as both partners are honest about their needs, they may find their relationship strengthened in ways they didn’t expect.”
Daniel N. Watter, Ed.D. specializes in the treatment of individuals and couples experiencing sexual and/or relationship problems.