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How Alcohol Affects Your Health

The Impact of Alcohol on the Human Body

Drinking too much, whether it’s just one time or over a long period, can really harm your health. Let’s see how alcohol can make your body feel bad:

Brain:

Alcohol messes up how the brain talks to itself and can mess up how the brain operates. This can mess with your feelings and actions, making it tough to think clearly and move smoothly.

Heart:

Drinking a lot of alcohol for a long time or too much in one go can harm your heart. It can lead to heart problems like:

  1. Cardiomyopathy – when your heart muscle gets stretched and saggy.
  2. Arrhythmias – when your heart beats irregularly.
  3. Stroke
  4. High blood pressure

 Liver:

Drinking too much can harm your liver and cause different liver issues like:

  1. Fatty liver (steatosis)
  2. Alcoholic hepatitis
  3. Liver scarring (fibrosis)
  4. Cirrhosis

 Pancreas:

Drinking alcohol can harm your pancreas by making it produce harmful substances. This can lead to a serious condition called pancreatitis, which causes inflammation and swelling in your pancreas, making it hard to digest food properly.

Cancer:

The National Cancer Institute says that drinking alcohol can lead to different types of cancer. The US Department of Health and Human Services also lists alcohol as a known cause of cancer in their Report on Carcinogens.

The more alcohol you drink, especially if you do it regularly, the more likely you are to get cancer from alcohol. This includes people who have just one drink a day and those who binge drink (that’s having 4 or more drinks in one go for women, and 5 or more for men). In 2009, about 3.5% of cancer deaths in the United States, roughly 19,500 deaths, were because of alcohol.

Drinking alcohol is linked to a higher chance of getting certain types of cancer:

  1. Cancer in the head and neck, which includes mouth, throat, and voice box cancers.
  2. Esophageal cancer, especially a type called esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. If you have an enzyme deficiency and drink alcohol, your risk of this cancer is even higher.
  3. Liver cancer.
  4. Breast cancer: Women who drink even one alcoholic drink a day have a 5 to 9 percent higher chance of getting breast cancer compared to those who don’t drink.
  5. Colorectal cancer.

To learn more about how alcohol can affect your risk of cancer, just go to the National Cancer Institute’s webpage called “Alcohol and Cancer Risk.” You can find this information by checking their website, and the last time it was updated was on October 21, 2021.

Immune System:

Drinking too much weakens your body’s defenses against illnesses, making it easier for diseases to attack. People who drink heavily are more likely to get sick with diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis compared to those who don’t drink excessively. Consuming a large amount of alcohol in one go also impairs your body’s ability to fight off infections, even for up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

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