07 June 2012

10 Health Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Drinking over the recommended daily guideline is an easy thing to do. You're sitting down watching t.v and have a glass of alcohol in hand. Yet as the night goes on, that one glass is finished and a second glass is added to your hand. After the second glass is finished, the third glass comes out, and so on it continues. Before you know it, you've had double or even triple the alcoholic consumption guideline (men - no more than 4 units per day, women - no more than three per day).

Alcohol, whether we like it or not, is damaging to our health and does have some harmful health effects. It's not just alcoholics who see the health effects of alcohol but also people who have just drank more than the recommended guideline for some years.

The problem with alcohol is that the signs of many health problems don't usually tun-up until a few years later, and by then its normally too late to reverse the damage done. Like I said before, it's not only alcoholics and binge-drinkers who are at risk, but people who drink in general. There's no guaranteed safe level of drinking.

1. Alcohol Poisoning

Drinking alcohol will depress the nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex, having too much alcohol will stop these bodily functions from working.

Alcohol irritates the stomach, and so excessive alcohol will cause a person to vomit. Alcohol as stated above, depresses the gag reflex, and so there is a danger that a person will choke on his/her own vomit resulting in asphyxiation.

A person's blood alcohol concentration can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out, even after a person stops drinking.

2. Liver Disease

Liver disease is certainly one of the most heard-of damaging health effects linked to alcohol, and is responsible for over 32,000 deaths in the U.K each year. 

Liver diseases used to affect most drinkers who were middle aged, but as more and more people are drinking, the average age of liver disease is starting to become younger. 

Liver diseases that can be as a result of drinking are: Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Alcoholic Hepatitis, and Alcoholic Cirrhosis.

3. Pancreatitis

Another disease associated with drinking is pancreatitis. The pancreas is the first part of the small intestine; pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. 

The pancreas is used to help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy and to help with digestion. When inflamed however, the enzymes inside the pancreas attack and damage the tissues that produce them. In severe cases bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur.

4. Diabetes

Diabetes can be a cause of drinking, more specifically type-2 diabetes. Drinking can reduce the bodies sensitivity to insulin, which can trigger type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a common side effect of chronic pancreatitis (number #3), which is mostly caused by heavy drinking. 

Diabetes causes lower levels of insulin to be produced or the insulin that is produced not to function as effectively, causing glucose to build up in the blood. 

5. Heart disease

Alcohol can be a factor towards heart disease which can kill. There are studies that seems to suggest that alcohol can help lower the risk of heart disease, however, there is still much work to be done on this, and these are based on low levels of consumption (maybe a unit or less), and not larger quantities. 

There are healthier things that can help prevent heart disease though, certain fruits and vegetables for example. 

6. Weight gain

Alcohol will cause you to gain a waistline, so if you're trying to lose one, you will be hard-pushed to succeed. A study conducted by the department of health shows that drinking five pints a week, has an equivalent amount of calories as eating 220 doughnuts a year!
If you are looking to get into better shape, then here's a post of mine: How to get in better shape.

7. Rhinophyma

Alcohol isn't a sole contributor to this disease, however, alcohol does aggravate the condition and does make things worse. 

Rhinophyma is due to untreated rosacea, and causes the nose to become large, bulbous and ruddy-like in appearance. Alcohol will only make things a lot worse. However, alcohol is bad for the skin anyway.

8. Brain damage

Long-term drinking can cause a person to have brain damage later on in life. Alcohol is particularly damaging to younger peoples brains as it is still developing during their teenage years, and can affect behaviour, the ability to learn, and recall things.

9. Cancer

Drinking alcohol is the second biggest cause of throat and mouth cancer, smoking being the first. There are different speculations at the moment as to how alcohol actually causes these cancers, but it has been established that it can cause them.
Liver diseases as a result of drinking can also aid towards liver cancer.

10. Reliance

Studies suggest that drinking regularly over the recommended guideline (or just on a regular basis) can lead to dependence on alcohol. This can have affects on family and friend relationships, contribute to all of the above health issues, and can head you in the direction of becoming an alcoholic. 
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