Ten Little-Known Health Risks of Chronic Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Frequent and excessive consumption of alcohol is beneficial to health. Alcohol can impact every system in the body. The amount of alcohol consumed, genetic factors, gender, body mass and general health are all factors that influence how a person’s health responds to chronic heavy drinking. However, studies consistently show that, overall, excessive alcohol consumption is detrimental to health and a leading cause of preventable death.

When the body absorbs more alcohol than it can metabolize, the excess builds up in the bloodstream. The heart circularizes blood alcohol throughout the body, resulting in changes in normal body chemistry and functions. Even a single episode of heavy drinking can lead to significant bodily impairment, damage, or death. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the development of many chronic diseases and other serious health problems. Alcohol has been found to contribute to at least 60 different health problems.

Ten most common effects of excessive alcohol consumption

Some Facts About Chronic Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Here are some key points about chronic heavy drinking.

The definition of binge drinking is drinking eight or more drinks per week for women, and 15 or more for men.
Any consumption of alcohol by a pregnant woman is excessive consumption.
Alcohol consumption is associated with violent crime.
People who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those who start drinking at age 21 or later.

1. Liver disease

Excessive alcohol consumption can affect many body systems. Alcohol is mainly metabolized in the liver, which is why the latter is particularly exposed to damage.

The body metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde, a substance that is both toxic and carcinogenic. Alcoholic liver disease is transmitted by the amount and duration of alcohol abuse. Chronic and heavy consumption of alcohol constitutes a significant risk for its development. Excessive alcohol consumption significantly increases the risk of alcoholic fatty liver disease, an early and reversible form of excessive alcohol consumption. Chronic alcohol consumption impairs hepatic fat deficit, and excess fat accumulates in the liver.

Other effects on the liver include long-term inflammation, called alcoholic hepatitis. This can lead to the formation of scar tissue. Over a period of years to decades, scarring can completely invade the liver, making it hard and nodular. This is called cirrhosis. If the liver is unable to carry out its vital functions, multiple organ failure and death are compensated. Symptoms often only develop after significant damage has already been done.

2. Pancreatitis

Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas that often requires hospitalization. The inflammation is likely related to premature activation of pancreatic enzyme proenzymes and chronic exposure to acetaldehyde, as well as other chemical activities in the pancreas caused by alcohol damage. About 70 percent of pancreatitis cases occur in people who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol.

3. Cancer

Chronic alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing various cancers, including those of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, stomach, liver, colon, rectum and breast. Acetaldehyde and alcohol itself contribute to the increased risk. People who smoke tobacco in addition to drinking have a higher risk of cancer of the upper gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract.

4. Ulcers and gastrointestinal problems

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause problems with the digestive system, such as stomach ulcers, acid reflux, heartburn, and inflammation of the stomach lining, known as gastritis. When alcohol passes through the digestive tract, it begins to exert its toxic effects. Damage to the digestive system can also lead to dangerous internal bleeding due to enlarged veins in the esophagus associated with chronic liver disease. Alcohol interferes with gastric acid secretion. It can delay gastric emptying and impair muscle movements throughout the intestine. The gastrointestinal tract suffers a considerable amount of damage from alcohol.

5. Dysfunction of the immune system

Excessive alcohol consumption weakens the immune system, making the body vulnerable to infectious diseases, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. Alcohol causes changes in red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Alcoholism can cause a low white blood cell count. This happens because the body’s production of white blood cells is suppressed and the cells get trapped in the spleen. Each episode of excessive alcohol consumption reduces the body’s ability to fight infections. Exposure to large amounts of alcohol and chronic, heavy alcohol consumption negatively affect white blood cell production and function over time. The risk of pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB), HIV infection and other illnesses will be higher.

6. Brain damage

Alcohol is associated with blurred vision, blackouts, slurred speech, difficulty walking and slowed reaction time. All of these symptoms are due to its effects on the brain. It alters receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain and interferes with a person’s cognitive functions, mood, emotions and reactions on many levels.
Since alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it makes it difficult to process information and solve simple problems. The effect of alcohol on serotonin and GABA receptors can lead to neurological changes that may reduce a person’s normal fear of the consequences of their own actions, contributing to violent behavior or taking risks. Alcohol also impairs fine motor coordination and balance, which often leads to injuries from falls. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause “memory lapses” or the inability to remember events. Long-term excessive alcohol consumption can accelerate the normal aging process of the brain and lead to early and permanent dementia. Until the age of 24, the brain is still developing. Therefore, young adults are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol.

7. Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies

Dysfunctional alcohol consumption leads to malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. This may be partly due to a poor diet, but also due to nutrients not being broken down properly. They are not properly supplied by blood from the gastrointestinal tract and are not used effectively by body cells. Also, the ability of alcohol to interrupt the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow and cause gastric ulcers can lead to the development of iron deficiency anemia.

8. Osteoporosis

Long-term heavy drinking can cause a form of dementia that affects memory, learning, and other mental functions. Chronic heavy alcohol consumption, especially during adolescence and early adulthood, can significantly affect bone health, and it may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, with loss of bone mass, later in life. in life. Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures, especially in the proximal femur of the hip. Alcohol interferes with calcium balance, vitamin D production, and cortisol levels, adding to the potential weakening of bone structure. People who drink excessively are more likely to fracture a vertebra than those who don’t. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in adolescence increases the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

9. Heart disease and cardiovascular health

Weight can cause high blood pressure by triggering the release of certain hormones that cause blood vessels to constrict. This can have adverse effects on the heart.
Excessive alcohol consumption has long been linked to multiple cardiovascular complications, including angina pectoris, high blood pressure, and risk of heart failure. Stroke is a life-threatening complication of binge drinking. Fluctuations in blood pressure and increased platelet activation are common during the body’s recovery period after a drinking binge. This deadly combination increases the risk of ischemic stroke.

10. Accidents and injuries

Alcohol consumption, regardless of the amount, is linked to car accidents, domestic violence, falls, drownings, work accidents, suicides and homicides.
Driving ability can be impaired by just one drink, and a heavy drinker is likely to sustain more serious injuries in the event of an accident. Chronic or excessive alcohol consumption poses a huge health risk. Excessive alcohol consumption, whether on one occasion or over a prolonged period, can cause serious and irreversible bodily harm. No pattern of alcohol consumption is completely risk-free, and there is no reliable method to predict how and when a person will experience the consequences of chronic heavy drinking.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO EVENT can the information replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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