Health Effects of Too Much Alcohol
For thousands of years, drinking alcohol has remained a large part of society and human civilization. While it’s long been an activity commonly associated with pleasure and sociability, it can also have a lasting negative impact on a person’s health.
When a person drinks excessively, they’re causing their body harm. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is the third leading cause of disease and injury worldwide.
Researchers have linked alcohol consumption to over 60 diseases. “Alcohol does all kinds of things in the body, and we’re not fully aware of all its effects. It’s a pretty complicated little molecule,” says James C. Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
How Alcohol Affects the Body
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, chronic alcohol abuse can affect a person’s body in the following ways:
- Alcohol interferes with the communication pathways in the brain and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior as well as make it harder for a person to think clearly and move with coordination.
- Drinking excessively for a long period of time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy and stroke.
- Continued heavy drinking can take a toll on the liver and lead to a variety of health problems including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.
- Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances. This can eventually result in pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
- Drinking too much alcohol increases a person’s chances of developing certain cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast.
- Immune system. Alcohol in excess can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to disease. For example, chronic drinkers are more likely to develop diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Unfortunately the health effects of too much alcohol are often overlooked because they can take time to develop. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and underestimating its impact can have hazardous and potentially lethal consequences. Proper treatment and support can help you or a loved one avoid the harmful effects of alcohol abuse and begin the path to recovery.
By Jenna Mitchell
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