Proverbs 23:31: "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright,"

Alcohol is a guy's worst enemy. Prolonged boozing can actually eat away at a man's body. He may also find himself becoming less of a lad and more of a lady, as his chest sprouts breasts, his hips become more curvaceous and his chin gets smoother. Heavy drinking can eat away at muscles, making them smaller and weaker. Sufferers tire easily on exertion, may find it hard to rise out of a chair or climb stairs, or may find themselves unsteady on their feet, or developing backache. This myopathy causes the muscle fibers to swell, then burst and die. Drinkers can also develop weaker bones.

Men who experience testosterone deprivation for any reason throughout their life have decreased bone mass. Then there are the changes that, while seemingly more cosmetic, may be equally disturbing. Men who regularly drink large amounts may grow breasts and develop hips, as fat shifts from the abdomen. The reason for this bizarre development is down to hormones again: alcohol can upset the delicate balance between testosterone and the female hormone estrogen.

Even moderate amounts of alcohol may cause infertility through suppressing ovulation. And moderate drinking also increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, as alcohol seems to suppress progesterone, the hormone that prepares the wall of the womb for a fertilized egg and is crucial for a successful early pregnancy. What's more, too much alcohol can gradually destroy a woman's looks.

Alcoholics are most at risk. "You can see it in their skin, which starts to look old," says Judith Gavaler, who has researched alcohol's effects for many years. These women may also lose their feminine figures as waist-to-hip ratio increases, and may grow more body hair, and develop a deeper voice and more aggressive behavior, according to Eriksson.

Excerpted from "New Scientist," Nov 27, 1999