You have probably heard remarks like "She could drink me under the table" or "He is a total lightweight." Those comments, which come with (dubious) connotations of strength and weakness, are rooted in the concept of alcohol tolerance
So what is alcohol tolerance? The term refers to the ability of some people to consume higher amounts of alcohol before feeling their effects than others, said Peter Martin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
There are several reasons why this happens, (19659004) Gender, genetics and how much you drink all play a role in tolerance
Researchers have examined multiple factors to figure out why some people's bodies appear to handle more alcohol than others, Martin said.
Gender and body weight clearly influence how an individual tolerates alcohol. Men tend to be able to drink more than women before they appear drunk.
Other biologic factors are a bit more complicated
"Some think that it is related to the enzymes involved in the metabolism of alcohol; "In the case of neurotransmitters, the theory is that the brains of some people with high tolerance simply do not receive signals saying," Whoa there, "
As for the role of enzymes," alcohol metabolism is a multi-step process, "explained Brad Uren, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Health System, Michigan Medicine. 1
Some people are deficient in aldehyde dehydrogenase, which can lead to a build-up of acetaldehyde in the blood
" This can lead to "flushing" skin, and worsening or increased symptoms commonly associated with "hangover," "Uren said. "People of Asian descent are more likely to have this enzyme deficiency."
Beyond that, our brains and bodies tend to adjust pretty quickly to heavy drinking
The human body has the ability to adapt to increased alcohol use , "Uren noted. "This may result in more rapid metabolism of alcohol." And that, on the turn, means those who drink alcohol more often "may also appear less intoxicated than others who have consumed a similar amount of alcohol."
Higher tolerance is not necessarily a good thing.
The first problem with higher alcohol tolerance is that it can give a false impression of just how drunk someone really is. Although you might think someone seems OK to drive and ride a bike because they're not stumbling or slurring their words – and they might think so too – that's not a sound assumption.
"It is not safe to assume that these individuals are better able to perform tasks that require concentration and reaction time, such as driving a vehicle, as if they had not consumed alcohol," Uren said. The wiser choice is to take away the keys and call Uber
It's also not safe to assume that someone with high alcohol tolerance, who is able to drink more without feeling drunk, is not going to see the long-term effects of excessive drinking.
They're still at risk for complications related to "how much alcohol you've consumed in a lifetime," Martin said. "These include cirrhosis of the liver, brain disease, neuropathies, pancreatitis, and gastritis or stomach cancer."
Indeed, "people with a higher tolerance, who have the capacity to drink more, are more prone to develop alcoholism" (196590024) Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
You will be especially mindful of drinking levels during the warm season, Uren stressed, when people often increase their alcohol
"Alcohol can lead to dehydration, and it should not be used in water or other fluids when exercising or outside on very hot summer days," he said. That means you should "separate the use of alcohol from activities that require extra concentration or coordination," Uren said – like biking, climbing and other hundreds of other summer sports
Remember that unsafe alcohol use is not defined by your tolerance but How much did you have to drink
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as "drinking so much within two hours as to raise blood alcohol concentration to 0.08," Uren said. "The average woman would probably reach this level with four standard drinks; men will typically reach this level after five standard drinks. "
One standard drink is about five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. of alcohol.
"For men under 65, drinking more than four drinks a day or 14 drinks in a week is a risky use," Uren said. "For women, or men over 65, more than three drinks a day or seven drinks a week is considered risky."
"Being, never, try to keep up with the alcohol-tolerant Joneses. "Martin said," It's a good idea, "said Martin. But really, the "lightweights" are better off.