Featured News 2016 How Alcohol Affects the Body

How Alcohol Affects the Body

People have been drinking alcohol for a very long time, so it's understandable why it plays such a major role in our society. In the United States, it's common practice to enjoy alcohol at various celebrations.

For New Year's, we have champagne, for Thanksgiving we have white wine, for St. Patrick's Day we drink green Guinness, for Super Bowl we drink beer, and the list goes on and on.

While alcohol is ever-present in American culture, there's a fine line between drinking in moderation, and drinking too much to the extent that alcohol affects our health. In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that, "Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health."

How can alcohol affect the body?

A lot of people will agree that it's "fun" to drink on occasion. When people drink, they can feel relaxed or they can even be in a better mood after a drink or two. Unfortunately though, too much alcohol can affect the brain, the heart, the liver, and the pancreas – alcoholism can even increase a person's risk of developing certain cancers, such as breast, esophageal and liver cancer.

Alcohol's effects on the human body:

  • Alcohol can affect the brain, disrupting a person's mood, behavior, and coordination,
  • Alcoholism can damage the heart, leading to high blood pressure, stroke, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathy,
  • Heavy drinking can damage the liver, leading to fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver, fatty liver, and alcoholic hepatitis, and
  • Drinking too much makes the body an easier target for disease by weakening the immune system for up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, heavy drinking is defined as consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks during the same occasion on 5 or more days in the past month. In contrast, moderate drinking is defined as having up to 1 drink a day for women, or up to 2 alcoholic drinks per a day for men.

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