Alcohol in the body

It is the liver that is at the greatest risk from drinking too much. The liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol in the body and if it is asked to work too hard or too often, then it will fail (a condition known as cirrhosis develops).

Generally, the liver of a normal healthy adult can cope with about 8 to 10 ml (about 1 UK unit) of alcohol per hour, but it can't do that each hour throughout the day!

People are usually advised not to consume more than a certain of units in a day or week. Thus for men 3 or 4 units a day is often suggested as a maximum, with a weekly maximum of about 28. For women, the suggested figures are somewhat smaller, normally 2 or 3 units a day and up to 21 units in a week.

Other advice may be offered – for example, have at least one 'alcohol-free' day a week.

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