Are you drinking too much?
Worried about how much you drink? A new test could reveal its effects on your liver. By Catherine Everett
A glass or two over lunch, half a bottle after a hard day's work - we may not be unruly teenagers but many women are popping the cork far too often.
The phrase binge-drinking' usually conjures up images of cider- swigging teens and students staggering out of pubs. However, the unsettling reality is that it's not just young people who are in danger of overdoing it. In fact, a study by the Office of National Statistics has shown that women in their mid-thirties and forties are among those most at risk from serious drink-related disorders.
Like many women, I've always found it hard to believe that a couple of glasses of wine in the evening could possibly jeopardise my health. However, according to Department of Health guidelines, I regularly venture into the realms of dangerous drinking. Whether I'm out for dinner with my partner, meeting a friend after work, I nearly always exceed the female daily recommended alcohol allowance of two to three units - no more than a single 175ml glass of wine.
So when I was offered the opportunity to undergo a Fibroscan - a new non-invasive liver-health screening at The London Clinic - I jumped at the chance. There, Dr Jalan, places a ultrasound monitor over my liver which is designed to look for scarring or signs of cirrhosis. I am also given a blood test, which along with the result of the Fibroscan, is able to provide me with a Liver Test Score.
After only a few minutes, I have my results. If my score is a figure of six or more then my liver has already been damaged. Luckily, I get a reading of 4.0 which I take as proof that my drinking habits haven't been excessive after all. Dr Jalan is quick to correct me. The scan helps to define how healthy your liver is now and gives you the opportunity to make some real changes to your lifestyle,' he says. You can walk out of here knowing that your liver is healthy and keep it that way or face serious problems in 10 years' time.'
His message is clear: if I keep drinking the way I do, I'm in serious trouble. I leave the clinic feeling very relieved and know that when I get home, I'll be putting on the kettle instead of heading straight for the fridge.
Find out more
The self-pay package price for a Fibroscan with consultation is £305.
This includes the price of the scan and the consultation fee with a consultant hepatologist (liver specialist). For more information on Fibroscans, visit www.thelondonclinic.co.uk