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Odd changes in body shape - too much alcohol?

(4 Posts)
veryfragile Tue 16-Jun-09 22:20:39

Want to pick mn's brains on this one.

My older sister had a beautiful figure until about five years ago when she turned 40. She was a size 10, with a tiny handspan waist, broad shoulders and shapely legs.

She started to drink heavily about five years ago, but the changes in her body shape and appearance over the past few years have started to really worry me and are making me wonder if she is drinking even more than I suspected. Basically her whole body shape has changed dramatically. She's not just put a lot of weight on all over, she's now got a massive stomach, which she never had before. The other women in my family are all pear shaped - when we put on weight it all goes onto our legs and bottoms, but our middles stay relatively small.

Could heavy drinking be linked to her change in shape? How would it do this? Her skin is very coarse too - is this another sign of serious alcoholism?

I feel so worried about her. She's practically unrecognisable compared to the person she was a few years ago.

thumbwitch Tue 16-Jun-09 22:59:42

yes, excessive alcohol can induce more of an apple shape than the traditional pear shape in your family. Effectively she has grown a beer belly (or wine belly depending on her drink of choice) It's the type of fat she is putting on - and it's far more dangerous in terms of ill health than your family's hip and thigh fat.

Coarsening of the skin could be linked too - alcohol has detrimental effects on the collagen that holds the skin together and excessive consumption can cause irreversible damage - think of Walter Matthau's nose, for e.g. (or if you don't know who he is, think of any old alcoholic and their nose is usually bloated, reddened and with larger pores than normal)

Although there is never a good time to be a heavy drinker, she has picked a particularly bad one as the body starts it's "middle age spread" mode around this time anyway so it will be much harder for her to regain anything like her old figure even if she stops drinking now.

Was there a particular reason that she started this heavy drinking? Because she really needs to stop before her liver is irreversibly damaged, as I'm sure you're aware.

veryfragile Tue 16-Jun-09 23:14:10

She's always had a problem with alcohol, in the sense that she's used it to self medicate. She didn't drink for years when she was with her previous partner, because he threatened to leave her if she did, and he himself didn't drink at all.

Then she left him after 18 years and had a five year relationship with a heavy drinker who was abusive to her. He destroyed her life. Before she met him she was beautiful, she was earning 40K a year and she had her own flat. After she moved in with him she had to leave her job because she had a bit of a breakdown. She sold her flat and they lived off the proceeds for a couple of years. She's now lost her looks, her confidence, all her money (she lives in rented property and hasn't a penny to her name). She has got a job, but her career has been damaged by being out of the job market for several years, and she's not earning as much as she was.

She's a secret drinker now, which makes it very hard to say anything to her. I have said in the past that I think she needs to address her drinking. She didn't talk to me for a month, then just carried on as if I hadn't said anything. sad

thumbwitch Tue 16-Jun-09 23:23:42

Well you can't make her do it, that's for sure - the only one who can do that is herself. All you can do is be there and support her as much as you can bear.

Perhaps you could go to AlAnon yourself - it's the support group for families of alcoholics, I don't think the alcoholic needs to be in AA themselves for you to be able to go as there is no cross-referencing between them. Although there probably won't be much in terms of what you can do for her, they might be able to help you look after yourself in this situation.

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