The effect of alcohol on the body

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Most of us enjoy the occasional, maybe even nightly drink. Whether it be straight bourbon, a glass of vintage red wine, our local beer or something a little stronger mixed in with our favourite soda, alcohol seems to help us relax after a hard day, and in some regards helps us to celebrate a special occasion. Statistics show that the average American will spend 1% of their annual income on alcohol, how much does that work out to in your wallet?

The following are just some of the areas of the body alcohol has been proven to impact:

  • The Brain
  • The Heart
  • The Liver
  • The Pancreas
  • The Immune System
  • The Lungs
  • The Stomach
  • The intestine
  • The kidneys
  • The sex drive

And the list goes on and on and on. Ready to listen now?

Despite the obvious enjoyment of alcohol, there are numerous health risks, and other risks, associated with the consumption of alcohol. You might also be reading this thinking, “But I drink every night and I seem fine?” Or perhaps you read a study on how red wine has been shown to be good for you. There is truth in both those comments which is why it is important to outline that the major risks of alcohol consumption are normally related more to binge drinking, or drinking heavily over a period of time.

According to James C Garbutt, MD Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, one of the scariest things about alcohol is that researchers still don’t completely understand how alcohol reacts with the body, or the complete list of effects it might have. The cognitive effects it has includes driving impairment, loss of memory and in some cases even cause blackouts, which doesn’t even start to bring up the long-lasting physical impacts it has.

We have almost all laughed at a drunken friends strange behavior or falling down, what this translates to though, is the effect of alcohol on the brain. Alcohol has been shown to interfere with the brains communication pathways, and goes as far as to affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood, and behavior, making it harder to think clearly and even coordination of movement.

Have you ever felt short of breath or had heart palpations after a late night binge? This is the result of the impact that alcohol has on the heart. By increasing blood pressure, and affecting vasoconstriction, excessive alcohol has been shown to cause cardiomyopathy (the stretching and drooping of the heart), irregular heartbeats and even strokes. Research has however shown that in some cases, moderate amounts of alcohol might protect healthy adults from developing coronary disease.

Probably the most well-known impact to the body is the tremendous toll on the liver. As the organ that processes the toxins in our body, it takes a beating from heavy alcohol consumption. The first step is for fat deposits to develop in the liver, with continued drinking causing the liver to become inflamed and even enlarged. A lot of alcohol damage on the liver is irreversible, leading to cirrhosis of the liver and an increased risk in liver cancer. Studies have shown that women are more susceptible to these risks than men.

Before any of the ‘enjoyment chemicals’ reach your brain, alcohols first port of call is the stomach. Excessive drinking is known to lead to everything from mild discomfort to the extremes of stomach ulcers, internal bleeding and even cancer. The inflammation that alcohol causes within the stomach can also prevent the necessary nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle to be absorbed through the stomach lining.

We can continue on this list and descriptions for days to come. The reality is, if you are consuming large quantities of alcohol, whether occasionally or as a regular occurrence, it is having a negative impact on your body. The regular abuse of alcohol may lead to alcoholism, and in itself can be considered a form of alcoholism.

The good news is that if you, or someone you know, are struggling with alcohol, there is a lot of help which is readily available. The following call centre (1-877-310-9512) is ready to give advice and counsel to those who are struggling themselves, or to those who are affected by the effect of alcohol on others.