health consequences excess drinking overcome

Causes Liver Disease

Long-term heavy alcohol use is the most prevalent single cause of illness and death from liver disease in the U.S., according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver and can lead to a variety of liver-related problems, such as fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Excessive alcohol can even lead to an increased risk of liver cancer. Women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol on the liver.

Affects Heart Health

The high sugar and calorie content of alcoholic drinks is not good for your heart, as it can cause high blood pressure, heart problems and strokes.

A 2006 study published in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology reports that regular intake of alcohol elevates blood pressure. Globally, the contributable risk for hypertensive disease from alcohol is 16 percent.

Alcohol drinkers are also at risk of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) building up on the inside of the arteries and forming plaque.

This plaque can restrict blood flow to other parts of the body and increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke.

A 2001 study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research highlights the influence of alcohol intake on risk for increased LDL cholesterol in middle-aged Japanese men.

According to the National Institutes of Health, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can protect the hearts of some people from the risks of coronary artery disease.

But this benefit transforms into an adverse health effect once the drinking habit crosses the moderate level.

Increases Cancer Risk

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism analyzed more than 200 studies and concluded that alcohol intake is linked with increased risk for cancers.

Alcohol (ethanol) is converted in the body into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. This chemical damages DNA and stops cells from repairing this damage. It also weakens the immunity and influences free radical formation.

A 2000 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that high intake of wine, the most commonly used alcoholic beverage, increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

There is also an association of heavy alcohol intake with increased risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a 2012 study published in the Annals of Oncology. The risk is even higher in people who drink as well as smoke heavily.

For women, the risk of breast cancer also rises with alcohol use. A 2015 study done by the Plataforma SINC confirms that alcohol intake increases the chances of developing breast cancer. This risk quadruples with the intake of each daily glass of wine or beer.

Damages the Brain

Alcohol is a potent neurotoxin and its high intake is bad for your brain health. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, high alcohol intake may accelerate normal aging or cause premature aging of the brain.

The toxins in alcohol interfere with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way your brain functions.

These disruptions can lead to a decrease in the brain’s processing speed and efficiency. It can also cause memory loss, poor concentration and cognitive decline.

A 2014 study published in Neurology reports that excessive alcohol consumption in men was associated with faster cognitive decline compared with light to moderate alcohol consumption.

Plus, alcoholism leads to two common nutritional deficiencies, thiamine (vitamin B1) and magnesium, which are important for brain health.

Thiamine deficiency causes decreased mental alertness, confusion, memory loss and decreased coordination, while magnesium deficiency is associated with depression, confusion, disorientation, apprehensiveness and irritability.