The Dark Side of Alcohol – Not everyone who likes to drink alcohol stops at just one. While many people drink in moderation, some don’t. Heavy drinking can take a toll on the body. It can cause inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis) and lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), a potentially fatal disease. It can increase blood pressure and damage heart muscle (cardiomyopathy).
- Heavy alcohol use has also been linked with several cancers: The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research indicate that there is convincing evidence linking alcohol to cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, liver, colon, and rectum.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that both the ethanol in alcohol and acetaldehyde, a chemical formed from the breakdown of ethanol, are carcinogenic to humans in high amounts.
The risk is multiplied for drinkers who also smoke tobacco or have a poor diet. Problem drinking also touches drinkers’ families, friends, and communities. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and others:
- In 2014, about 61 million Americans were classified as binge alcohol users (5 or more drinks on the same occasion at least once a month) and 16 million as heavy alcohol users (5 or more drinks on the same occasion on 5 or more days in one month).
- Alcohol plays a role in one in three cases of violent crime.
- In 2015, more than 10,000 people died in automobile accidents in which alcohol was involved.
- Alcohol abuse costs about $249 billion a year.
Even moderate drinking carries some risks. Alcohol can disrupt sleep and one’s better judgment. Alcohol interacts in potentially dangerous ways with a variety of medications, including acetaminophen, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, painkillers, and sedatives. It is also addictive, especially for people with a family history of alcoholism.
Can drinking alcohol be healthy?
Pros and cons of moderate alcohol use – Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, such as:
- Reducing your risk of developing and dying of heart disease
- Possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)
- Possibly reducing your risk of diabetes
However, eating a healthy diet and being physically active have much greater health benefits and have been more extensively studied. Keep in mind that even moderate alcohol use isn’t risk-free. For example, even light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink a day) have a tiny, but real, increased risk of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer.
Why is alcohol unhealthy?
What are the long-term health effects of alcohol? – Drinking more than 2 standard drinks a day can seriously affect your physical and mental health over your lifetime. The side effects of alcohol include dependence and addiction, especially in people who have depression or anxiety,
Brain : Drinking too much can affect your concentration, judgement, mood and memory. It increases your risk of having a stroke and developing dementia, Heart : Heavy drinking increases your blood pressure and can lead to heart damage and heart attacks, Liver : Drinking 3 to 4 standard drinks a day increases your risk of developing liver cancer, Long-term heavy drinking also puts you at increased risk of liver cirrhosis (scarring). Stomach : Drinking even 1 to 2 standard drinks a day increases your risk of stomach and bowel cancer, as well as stomach ulcers, Fertility : Regular heavy drinking reduces men’s testosterone levels, sperm count and fertility, For women, drinking too much can affect their periods,
Excessive alcohol consumption is also a major factor in road and other accidents, violence, and crime. According to the National Drug Household Survey in 2019 :
About 1 in 5 alcohol drinkers aged 14 or older had put themselves or others at risk of injury or harm while drinking in the previous 12 months. Over 1 in 5 Australians aged 14 years or older had been a victim of an alcohol related incident in 2019. This included many types of abuse, including verbal or physical abuse. Adults aged 18-24 were more likely to binge drink than the rest of the population. Men were more likely to binge drink than women.
Why do people really drink alcohol?
9. For Fun – People generally tend to drink alcohol in order to have fun. Being drunk makes them feel happy and “spirited,” and drinking alcohol with friends can be a fun experience. If people are nervous in social situations, drinking helps them relax and have more fun.
Is 7 beers a day too much?
Mayo Clinic Q and A: Is daily drinking problem drinking? DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Is it possible to become an alcoholic just by having one or two drinks nightly? I have a glass or two of wine with dinner but never drink to the point of feeling drunk. Should I be concerned? ANSWER: Occasional beer or wine with dinner, or a drink in the evening, is not a health problem for most people.
- When drinking becomes a daily activity, though, it may represent progression of your consumption and place you at increased health risks.
- From your description of your drinking habits, it may be time to take a closer look at how much you drink.
- Drinking alcohol in moderation generally is not a cause for concern.
According to the, drinking is considered to be in the moderate or low-risk range for women at no more than three drinks in any one day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, it is no more than four drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks per week. That said, it’s easy to drink more than a standard drink in one glass. For example, many wine glasses hold far more than 5 ounces. You could easily drink 8 ounces of wine in a glass. If you have two of those glasses during a meal, you are consuming about three standard drinks.
Although not drinking to the point of becoming drunk is a common way people gauge how much they should drink, it can be inaccurate. Researchers who study find that people with high tolerance to alcohol, who do not feel the effects of alcohol after they drink several alcoholic beverages, are actually at a higher risk for alcohol-related problems.
It’s also important to note that, even though you may not feel the effects of alcohol, you still have the same amount of alcohol in your body as someone who starts to feel intoxicated after one or two drinks. Your lack of response to the alcohol may be related to an increase in your body’s alcohol tolerance over time.
- Some people are born with high tolerance; many people develop a tolerance with regular drinking.
- Drinking more than the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommended limits puts you in the category of “at-risk” drinking.
- That means you have a higher risk for negative consequences related to your alcohol use, including health and social problems.
You are also at higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol. Alcohol can damage your body’s organs and lead to various health concerns. For women, this damage happens with lower doses of alcohol, because their bodies have lower water content than men. That’s why the moderate drinking guidelines for women and men are so different.
- The specific organ damage that happens with too much alcohol use varies considerably from one person to another.
- The most common health effects include heart, liver and nerve damage, as well as memory problems and sexual dysfunction.
- Unless you notice specific negative consequences related to your drinking, it probably is not necessary for you to quit drinking alcohol entirely.
However, I would strongly encourage you to reduce the amount you drink, so it fits within the guidelines of moderate drinking. Doing so can protect your health in the long run. —, Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota : Mayo Clinic Q and A: Is daily drinking problem drinking?
Is one beer a day immune?
Alcohol does weaken the immune system, when consumed excessively. One to two drinks a day is generally considered safe, and likely doesn’t weaken the immune system significantly. You should refrain from drinking too much alcohol if you don’t want to get sick, and you shouldn’t drink alcohol if you are sick. Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice,
The immune system is how your body defends itself from infections — like harmful bacteria and viruses — and prevents you from getting sick. But just like a muscle, the immune system can become weak and fail to protect you against infection as well. Healthy habits, such as being active, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep, can keep your immune system strong,