Yes, you’ve heard how bad alcohol can be for your liver but did you know it can harm your brain too? What about your heart? Immune system? Truth be known, drinking affects every morsel of your being and you may or may not be familiar with the many ways in which alcohol causes illness to manifest in your body. If you’re interested, we’ll dive right into it…

 

  1. Your pancreas become toxic

 

Drinking alcohol really puts a strain on your poor old pancreas. And as a result, they fight back and produce toxic chemicals, which pave the way for a common disease known as pancreatitis. If you aren’t familiar with this condition, it is inflammation of the pancreas (and a dangerous one at that), which results in blood vessel swelling and digestive distress. That bottle of wine doesn’t seem so appealing anymore, does it?

 

  1. The brain can develop deficits

 

Heavy drinking can cause brain deficits and cognitive problems. These impairments can result in symptoms like difficulty walking, slurred speech, memory loss, and blurred vision.

 

  1. Your heart becomes weak

 

Over time drinking too much can weaken the heart muscle which makes it difficult for the body to pump blood around your body to fuel your organs. Alcohol can also raise blood pressure levels to dangerous highs thus putting you at risk of a heart attack.

 

  1. It creates a cancer breeding ground

 

According to extensive research, there is a strong association between drinking alcohol and certain types of cancer. The study stated in its report that alcohol acts as a carcinogen (meaning it forms cancer) and people who drink regularly are at a high risk of developing cancer. For the record, these are the types of cancers we are talking about:

 

  • Oral cancer

 

Drinking can increase the risk of oral cavity cancers in the throat and voice box. People who drink 50 plus grams of ethanol each day almost triple their risk of cancers like these!

 

  • Esophageal cancer

 

Individuals who lack an enzyme needed for metabolizing alcohol have been shown in studies to increase risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

 

  •  Liver cancer

 

Obviously, this one came as no surprise since practically every adult alive today knows that alcohol in excess can destroy your liver. Alcohol is the primary cause of liver disease.

 

  • Breast cancer

100 studies determined an association between drinking and breast cancer risk. A meta-analysis (an examination of all data) of these studies concluded that women who drink 45 plus grams of alcohol daily have a 1.5% higher risk of breast cancer. Researchers observed that for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day, the woman raised her breast cancer risk by 7% (a UK study found this to be 12%)

 

  1. Your immune system plummets

 

The immune system, our first line of defense against harmful pathogens that can cause grave illness is disrupted by alcohol consumption. It cannot work as it should when you drink. The more alcohol you drink, the weaker your immune system will get over time. Even just one night of clubbing can damage your immune system – research has shown that a single period of excessive drinking inhibits the body’s ability to ward off infections for 24 hours. So, even though alcohol won’t technically cause certain illnesses like colds and flu – it does damage your immune system which puts you at risk of every infectious disease under the sun.

 

To summarize

 

Alcohol in excess is bad, period. However, don’t let all these studies deter you from having the odd drink once in a while. As long as you don’t go overboard you will be fine. Moving away from the negative side, there have actually been various studies showing the health benefits of red wine! Note that this is not us giving you the green light to down a bottle of wine every day, but it just goes to show there is a good and bad side to everything – including alcohol.

 

Are you drinking too much?

 

If you drink excessively and struggle to control yourself you may have an addiction and you must seek professional help. Alcohol addiction wrecks the lives of the user and everyone around them. Checking into an expert rehabilitation facility (see Enterhealth) with full-time psychiatrists offering treatment for addicts and their families is your best bet if you want to overcome this.

 

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Over 50 and fabulous living and writing in Appalachia

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