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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Female binge drinkers' health warning
Some experts blame the popularity of alcopops for the increase in binge drinking
Young women who binge drink are facing a health time bomb, according to hospital doctors.

Dr Fleur Ashby, of Kendray Hospital, in Barnsley, said a growing number of women in their 20s and 30s were being treated for symptoms of severe liver damage - a condition more commonly seen in older patients.

But Dr Ashby told the BBC's Inside Out programme that a combination of binge drinking, happy hour promotions and the popularity of alcopops have led to serious health problems among increasingly younger women.

Experts believe alcohol-related liver disease accounts for up to 6,000 deaths in the UK every year.

Dr Ashby said: "There are women out there who are trying to drink as much as the lads.

"But the way their bodies are built means they can't tolerate the same quantities of alcohol.

"There are those who are binge drinking and then those who are getting into more dependent daily drinking.

"What people don't understand is that binge episodes are causing just as many serious health problems as drinking seven days a week."

A significant minority of people are storing up serious trouble for themselves in the future
Dr Dermot Gleeson
Reformed drinker "Fiona", who wishes to remain anonymous, said the effects of alcohol abuse have been devastating.

She said: "You don't know what damage you're doing to yourself.

"Your whole body is shattered - you can't sleep, you can't control your eating, you can't control your bowels. You are just messing up your life."

Dr Dermot Gleeson, of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, said: "It's a huge industry worth billions of pounds.

"A significant minority of people are storing up serious trouble for themselves in the future if they do not moderate their alcohol intake."

Drinking guidelines

Government drinking guidelines recommend that women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

The recommended maximum level for men is 21 units.

Steve Perez, founder of VK Vodka Kick alcopops, insisted his company did not target female drinkers.

He said: "Our research shows that big strapping lads with tattoos on their necks enjoy VK.

"The days of a girl drinking a fizzy drink and a guy drinking a pint of bitter are gone.

"There is nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation. It's not all about going out and getting completely bladdered."

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