People in their 30s and 40s are worse than those in their 20s at sticking to their drinking limits, a poll has suggested.
A survey by YouGov found almost half of 30 to 50-year-olds confessed to drinking too much at times.
Once past the age of 30 the body loses muscle and water and gains fat – making the effects of alcohol more pronounced.
The poll was commissioned as part of a government campaign to encourage responsible drinking over Christmas.
NHS admissions for 35 to 49-year-olds with alcohol-related conditions have risen from around 50,000 in 2002/03 to 75,000 in 2005/06.
The government is warning people that drinking often at home could cause problems within 10 years of starting.
One in three of the 30 to 50-year-olds surveyed said that drinking too much had wrecked a night out for them at least once in the past year, and 44% said they hadn’t learned to stick to the recommended number of drinks.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP, said that it was important for the over-30s to limit their alcoholic intake over the Christmas period.
“You often hear people saying they feel worse after drinking the older they get – as you age, the body isn’t as good at dealing with alcohol.”
She offered advice to help older people to drink less during the Christmas party season.
“To help you stick to your limits, you might want to try agreeing a limit with a friend, following one alcoholic drink with a soft drink, or taking time out from drinking for another activity.”
A spokesman for Alcohol Concern echoed this advice: “As a person gets older, less body water and more fat in the system means alcohol stays in the blood stream for longer, which helps explain why people often experience the effects of heavy drinking more than they might have done if younger .
“However young or old, a hangover is your body’s way of telling you that you’ve had too much the night before.
“The surest way to enjoy Christmas drinks with none of the baggage is to stick to the recommended daily limits.”
Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “This research shows that binge drinking and hangovers are not just a problem for younger drinkers.
“Many people underestimate the amount of units they are drinking because drinks have been getting stronger, and glasses larger, over the past couple of decades – a small glass of wine can now be two units, and large glasses three to four units.
“People over 30 should be aware that their body is less likely to cope with the after-effects of alcohol, think carefully about the weekly amount they are drinking and stick to the safe limits so as to avoid alcohol-related disease.”
Sources: BBC NEWS (20th. Dec’07)