We have romantic notions of opening a bottle of beer on a sunny afternoon. But for many of us that can rapidly descend into a bit of a messy early evening and a very painful morning after. And the combination of sun and alcohol can be pretty bad in other ways too. Carrie Roberts explains why.
The British Journal of Dermatology concluded that the consumption of more than one drink a day is associated with a 20% increased risk of melanoma. Ethanol is converted by the body to acetaldehyde, a compound which increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV light. Not only is sunburn more likely, but there is a higher risk of contracting the deadliest form of skin cancer known as melanoma.
Everyone knows alcohol can dehydrate you, but in summer you are at risk of losing even more hydration purely from the heat. The sun and alcohol are a bad mix. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to pass more water than usual. Together with the fluid lost in sweat, drinking in the sun means your body will lose water much faster than it can be replenished. This results in dehydration, putting your health and plans back a little. If you are moderating your drinking make sure you drink water regularly throughout the day; this will replace water lost and ensure you stay cool too.
Yeah, that water does look lovely and cool, and yes you know what you are doing …. But sun or no sun, alcohol impairs judgement and reduces inhibitions – water-related accidents become much more likely in summer and if you are pissed.
When drunk you can misjudge swimming distances and swim out too far to swim back. The ‘inebriated swimmer’ (sounds like a pub name) may even develop hypothermia as they do not notice how cold the water is. And don’t get in a boat! Just don’t – your judgement is askew, your reaction times dampened and affect their ability to navigate. Alcohol and water based-sports are clearly not the best mix.
Drinking throughout the day is perhaps a norm during summer, yet this makes it easier to lose track of how much you are actually drinking. An afternoon tipple can easily turn into a hangover and those into a regular habit, and at the end of a day your overall boozing could be higher than you realise.
It is a little mad that the instant we see sun we think about opening a bottle of wine – but if you think about it, it is just a convenient excuse. We do the same when we are cold, happy or sad. It is part of the hard wiring that has developed in our brain to find reasonable and plausible excuses to trick ourselves into having a drink.
We will remember last summer with nostalgia, it being long enough ago to have forgotten the hangovers, embarrassment and shame!
So how about retraining your brain to use the sun as a trigger to take care of yourself, fill yourself with healthy food and think of the many ways you can enjoy the sun that don’t involve being in the pub garden. You may find this could be the best summer yet.