Two glasses of wine daily raise the risk of liver disease by 13pc
Women who relax at home with more than two large glasses of wine a day can pay a heavy health price for the indulgence.
They are increasing their risk of developing liver disease by 13pc, said Dr Orla Crosbie, a gastroenterologist at Cork University Hospital.
Two large glasses comprise around four units of alcohol -and can be typical of a generous home pouring as people put their feet up after a long day.
Men face the same risk of getting cirrhosis of the liver if they have the equivalent to three large glasses of wine or three pints of lager a day.
Cirrhosis, which is a scarring of the liver, usually has few symptoms in the early stages and is often picked up during blood tests for an unrelated illness.
Dr Crosbie said it is difficult to say how long it takes to develop cirrhosis. "It is usually after a significant period of drinking. Females are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol because of their body composition.
"While it mostly occurs after years of heavy drinking, it can happen after months as well."
She is seeing an increasing number of women in her clinics who are developing different forms of liver disease, which is no longer the domain of middle-aged men.
"Nobody pours one unit of alcohol, which is a small glass of wine, at home."
"People should aim to have alcohol-free days every week. It is the most effective way of cutting their intake," advised Dr Crosbie who will speak at a major conference on women and drinking organised by Alcohol Action Ireland in Dublin today.
"If you are going to drink, try to confine it to two or three days a week at most.
"The problem is that people have fallen into a habit of drinking every day."
Dr Crosbie points out that hospital admissions for alcohol-related liver disease among men and women between 1995 and 2005 almost doubled.
She added: "Two thirds of them are people who are under 65 years of age."
How to cut back on the drink habit
Before you start, set a limit on how much you'll drink.
Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.
Let your friends and family know you're cutting down and that it's important to you.
Cut back a little each day. That way, each day is a success.
You can still enjoy a drink, but go for smaller amounts. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine.
Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You'll find this information on the bottle.
Drink a pint of water before you start drinking, and don't use alcohol to quench your thirst. Have a soft drink instead.