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We all know what a night out with too many drinks can bring: a hangover. And we know that prolonged alcohol abuse causes liver damage – or worse. But what are some other more serious effects alcohol has on you from the moment you drink it?
Why Sell It?
The sale of alcohol was banned in the United States between 1920 and 1939. But why? The Prohibition was imposed because people back then had no idea what the implications of alcohol are.
Men would drink whiskey from dawn till dusk and be violent and aggressive. They would drink so much they’d be unable to work, would get sick more often, and die earlier than expected.
The Prohibition existed to fight the earliest known, and easiest to see side effect of alcohol: alcohol abuse.
From Prohibition to Problematic
Since then, we’ve learned so much about alcohol and its effects on our bodies, but there are some effects we do not consider. Gastroenterologist Ibrahim Hanouneh, MD, shares six lesser known ways alcohol affects you and your body:
- Alcohol takes priority. When you consume any alcohol, your body makes breaking down the alcohol top priority. And because your body has no way to store alcohol (like with proteins, carbs, and fats), your body makes the liver work extra hard, detoxifying the alcohol from the blood.
- Bacteria grows in your gut. Alcohol abuse often leads to intestinal bacteria growth. These bacteria can migrate into the liver and cause damage. Even a single night of drinking can damage the intestinal lining.
- Your heart will hurt. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a weak heart (cardiomyopathy), irregular patterns (arrhythmia), or high blood pressure.
** A study shows that alcoholism and depression are also heavily connected. One conclusion from the study was that alcohol’s depressant characteristics lead to periods of depression.
- You’ll develop Pancreatitis. Your pancreas produces insulin, which allows the food you eat to be used as energy. Pancreatitis is when your pancreas becomes inflamed and starts to slow down production. It typically brings high blood pressure and can even cause malabsorption syndrome and diabetes.
- Risk for cancer. Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, breast, and, of course, liver, have been associated with alcoholism.
- A stressed immune system. Drinking alcohol, especially binge drinking, stresses your entire system and a stressed immune system opens the body to infection, disease, and worse.
**Preventing alcohol abuse can also help prevent Alzheimer’s(anchorlink) and dementia.
A Final Shot
All this said, alcohol is best avoided, but can be fine in moderation. Doctors even suggest drinking red wine can be good for you, but I would still take caution. Dr. Hanouneh says healthy people can still drink alcohol, but certainly not every day, or even most days of the week.
Alcohol addiction is a slippery slope that takes you away from your life, your kids, and your body. Drinking alcohol has massive health implications that are hard, if not impossible to reverse.