Building a Better Bloke

Grog monstered

Posted in Booze, Medical advice by Sam de Brito on October 14, 2009

By Dr Michael Mancini

I thought I’d start my column with a topic that is close to my heart and often not far from my lips. Alcohol.

Whether worshipped or vilified, alcohol has played a starring role in most major civilisations. Stone Age beer jugs have been found dating back to 10,000 B.C., remnants from what is believed to be the first ever keg party.

That most excellent novel, Ye Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus et al.), records Noah planting a vineyard on Mt Ararat; and after Moses led the Hebrews into Canaan and out of Egyptian slavery, they were heard to be complaining about leaving all the good wine behind.

The Ancient Egyptians also recognized the heavenly qualities of alcohol, worshipping Osiris, the Goddess of Wine.

They proved to be prodigious brewers, producing up to 17 different varieties of beer and 24 types of wine. With the passage of time and the changing geopolitical climate, the Mecca of beer-brewing changed to Eastern Europe and is now dominated by countries such as Germany and Belgium, and is celebrated by that wonderful cultural festival Oktoberfest …

The crown of wine-making is shared between the Italians, for the creation of  Spumante – which has kick-started so many drinking careers – and that most beloved medico Dr Lindeman, for his wonderful innovation of putting wine in a box, giving birth to “goon”.

And the love affair continues into modern society.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 2004-05 reported 13 percent of Australians drinking at high risk levels. That’s about two million Australians. That’s a lot of risk. So what exactly is high risk drinking?

Well there’s short term and long term risk.

Short term risk is the risk (usually of injury or accident) associated with any one particular occasion of drinking. So this is those folk who have a thousand schooners and then crash their car, or break a leg while climbing a fence to get back into the pub, or smash their girlfriend’s teeth while trying to piggy-back her up Coogee Bay Road.

You get the picture.

Long term risks are those incurred from heavy long term alcohol use (more than seven standard drinks a day in men, or more than five in women) or binge drinking (greater than 11 drinks in one session for men, or  seven for women).

These include cognitive problems, liver cirrhosis, an increased risk of certain cancers and alcohol dependence. Furthermore, alcohol is the second largest cause of drug-related deaths and hospitalisations after tobacco, and is the main cause of deaths on Australian roads.

Pretty grim picture eh? So why is it so popular?

I’m pretty sure we all know the answer to this question. In small quantities, alcohol reduces people’s inhibition and confers a sense of wellbeing. Problems arise when the second bottle of rum emerges, the toxic cellular effects of alcohol begin to predominate, and that sense of wellbeing changes to one of invincibility.

So I guess the moral of the story is that our motto should no longer be “Go hard or go home”, but “I drink, therefore I think”.


Dr Michael Mancini has postponed his South American bride-finding tour to come online and re-dedicate himself to the pressing issues of men’s health, most of which he believes he suffers with. He looks forward to tackling the challenges Sam’s readers present him with and yes, he is a real doctor. Mancini has worked in casualty wards on three continents and seen first hand what drugs, gallons of piss and machinery can do to human bodies. He’s not a moralising medico, but understands the pointy end of medicine and is here to answer the tough questions.

6 Responses

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  1. Frank said, on October 16, 2009 at 8:24 am

    as an ex-wine drinker (too many headaches from the aldehydes or something), I took up home brewing, and found it a money-saving and refreshing hobby.

    I follow the moderation guidelines, imbibing typically no more than 1-2 a day with 1-2 alcohol-free days a week.

    Only problems – as a fair skinned anglo, I’m starting to find the flushed capilliaries give me much more red face than I’d like, and the reduction in inhibitions has caught me out in a couple of life-, car- and job-threatening situations.

    Read recently in a Men’s Health book that alcohol is a poison, so we’re not doing our liver any favours by any amount consumed.

    That said, I still enjoy the odd one on the odd day – especially if it’s German, Czech or similar.

  2. The General said, on October 20, 2009 at 12:06 am

    You didn’t know alcohol was a poison?

    Turn predictive text/dictionary on your phone on and type in “Smirnoff”

  3. Tim said, on October 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Great article, Michael. The liquid courage alcohol provides seems to be just too good to miss for the average bloke!

  4. random said, on October 21, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Alcohol even in moderation has some bad effects on me- sleeplessness is a curse: even after just a few drinks I get a disturbed night and sometimes wake up at 4.30 wide awake, and feel like crap the next day.

    Also if I drink moderately for several evenings in a row my mood goes noticeably in the toilet; if I do it for a week I feel downright depressed. Which also leads directly into a cycle of caffiene & alcohol that many people in their 20s have.

    Life’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re not hungover and tired, save the boozy nights for the odd occasion or blowout.

  5. Adumb said, on October 26, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I have found that being a male in his early 20s, drinking in moderation is more frowned upon than getting blind, certainly in my circle of friends if not in general society as well. Many relationships are formed on the piss, which makes it hard when you don’t drink much.
    Iv been told that all mind altering substances are used by people as an escape, so what are we all escaping from?

  6. Graham said, on November 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

    There are plenty of other toxins that the human body inadvertently and involuntarily takes in besides alcohol. Wait for a bus along Oxford St for five minutes and see what happens to your mood (thanks to the amount of carbon monoxide floating about in the air). Take a look at what goes into processed foods. Heck, we even eat stuff that the body cannot digest (corn, flax seeds, need I go on?).

    In my humble opinion, there really ought to be a junior high school science unit dedicated entirely to everything that is toxic to the human body; not just mind altering substances.

    Nothing gives me greater pleasure than enjoying a pint or six with my friends, it’s a social activity and I love the taste. My liver has already forgiven me (hopefully long) in advance because it would rather see me die happy than live on rabbit food and live until the age of one-hundred and one.

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