During the hot summer months, many holidaymakers quench their thirst at open-air terrace bars. A pint a day of beer is not considered dangerous by Finnish standards. Nevertheless, Medical Director Pekka Heinälä of the A-Clinic Foundation says the risk levels for excessive alcohol consumption are very high from an international standpoint.
“In Finland, the weekly limit for men is 24 units of alcohol with 16 units for women. In the U.S, the corresponding rates are 14 for men and 7 for women. This is a considerable difference,” he notes.
A single unit of alcohol, namely, one bottle of beer, cider or a small glass of wine is considered a safe daily intake level for women in the U.S. In Finland, the safe limit is two units per day.
Symptoms from excessive alcohol intake can occur with lower drinking levels, especially in cases of binge drinking.
“Alcohol has become the highest cause of mortality among people of working age surpassing the incidence of lung cancer or, in the case of women, breast cancer,” Heinälä warns.
Prolonged Hangover from Holiday Drinking
The fruits of continuous drinking during the vacation are clearly visible in the number of patients seeking help from withdrawal symptoms and requesting detoxification at health centres.
“Paradoxically alcohol quenches ones’ thirst but increases dehydration. In times of hot weather, symptoms of dehydration and related salt imbalance are in evidence in many doctors’ surgeries,” notes Dr. Jani Mononen, of Helsinki’s Haartman Hospital.
Female alcohol consumption has increased six-fold within four decades, according to a recent survey.
In Heinälä's view, this is due to increasing equality in society. However, he describes the trend as "devious” as women do not physically tolerate alcohol in the same way as men.