When you go out with friends or family, or even by yourself sometimes in your free time, you might drink a glass of wine or a beer. It’s such a normal thing to do that we rarely think about the consequences of doing it.
In fact, some of us mostly hear about the benefits of drinking alcohol, which do exist. Alcohol helps with heart disease, and can create immunity, which will reduce the risk of getting a cold. Alcohol can even improve memory. It seems that alcohol is an amazing friend, but these benefits only come with moderate alcohol consumption. If you drink alcohol every day, the side effects might be a little worse and much riskier for your body.
Terry Schneekloth, MD, a doctor of psychiatry and addiction at the Mayo Clinic, said during an interview that “even if it’s just one glass of wine (5 ounces) or beer (12 ounces) or cocktail (1.5 ounces) or hard malt seltzer (8 ounces) every night, in some instances, that’s considered heavy drinking.”
The Mayo Clinic also says that it’s considered heavy drinking for women or men older than 65 years old who drink three drinks per day or more than seven drinks per week. For people under 65 years old, heavy drinking represents four drinks for any day and 14 a week.
Dr. Schneekloth says that alcohol can damage your organs and affect your health, as we all know. But this might be worse for women because they naturally have less water in their bodies than men. Hence, that’s why women and men have different guidelines when it comes to drinking.
These aren’t the only side effects. According to Mayo Clinic, things can get uglier for all of us. Keep in mind, though, that this will only happen if you drink alcohol constantly or abuse it. Not only will it affect your body, but it can even affect those around you, so consider seeking help if you think you’re drinking too much.
8. You May Get Brain Damage
Despite the fact that alcohol has been reported to be good for your memory, too much of it can damage your brain and you may develop neurological issues. Because it’s a neurotoxin, alcohol can disrupt communications in your brain, as well as affect your brain cells and cause a vitamin deficiency.
In some extreme cases, alcohol can even lead to dementia. Although, it’s worth mentioning that this is caused by several years of heavy drinking.
Finally, other side effects include difficulty walking, blurred vision, slowed reaction time, and compromised memory. Women need to be more careful, especially during pregnancy since alcohol can produce birth defects as well as problems with the development of the baby’s brain.
7. You May Start Having Issues with Your Liver
You probably already knew this one, but it’s important to remind you of the risk of damaging your liver due to heavy drinking.
The liver is an interesting organ because it’s capable of actually regenerating itself. However, that capability, along with the ability to metabolize alcohol, diminishes with the buildup of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme creates difficulties in processing alcohol, and it even damages your cells over time.
This can ultimately cause many liver problems, like fibrosis and cirrhosis. And possibly even more serious than that, you also increase the chance of getting liver cancer.
6. You Increase Your Risk of Cancer
Not only you can increase your risk of liver cancer, but drinking too much might increase the risk of cancer in other areas of your body.
Alcohol has been linked to cancer in your mouth, throat, voice box, liver, colon, stomach, and breasts. Although at the moment, it does not determine how the abuse of alcohol can increase your risk, it’s believed that’s because of something called oxidative stress in your cells, which basically means your body will suffer some chemical reactions called oxidation that can be harmful to your body.
Additionally, when you combine alcohol with tobacco, the chemicals will affect your absorption of nutrients, raise your estrogen levels, and cause weight gain.
5. Alcohol Can Cause Pancreas and Stomach Issues
Alcohol by itself produces a lot of toxic substances, which will cause problems in your stomach and pancreas if you abuse it. The most common issues related to alcohol can be inflammation in your pancreas and even chronic pancreatitis. It may also produce nausea and pain in your abdomen.
Not only that, but it can also affect the lining of your stomach, which helps produce acid and other important compounds that help you process your food and other drinks.
4. Alcohol Increases the Possibility of Death
You probably figured this one out by now, given all the health issues related to heavy drinking, but there are more ways alcohol can harm you.
Alcohol plays an important role in more than 200 diseases and injury conditions, not to mention the risk of drinking while driving, which kills thousands of people every year in the US alone.
Overall, more than three million deaths every year result from the harmful use of alcohol, and in the United States it is the “third leading cause of preventable death”, says Dr. Hensrud.
3. Alcohol Can Cause High Blood Pressure
According to Mayo Clinic, “more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases.”
As if that wasn’t enough, alcohol can cause unwanted weight gain, as we previously mentioned. Excess weight is one of the biggest factors in higher blood pressure, which means you may end up with unhealthy blood pressure levels. This can lead to many other problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
It’s worth mentioning that if you already suffer from high blood pressure, also called hypertension, you should avoid heavy drinking.
2. You May Develop an Alcohol Addiction
Drinking alcohol every day, even if it’s not much, can lead to alcohol addiction, and even turn into alcoholism.
According to Harvard Medical School, alcohol abuse is the second most common form of substance abuse in the United States, and its consumption has led to many health issues and accidents. Dr. Hensrud suggests that people who believe they have alcoholism or are starting to develop a drinking habit try to stop drinking for a few days or even weeks. This will help stop the habit of drinking and reduce the risk of it becoming an addiction.
1. You Can Be Burdening Your Heart
You’ve probably felt heartburn if you’ve been drinking too much. Even though we don’t pay much attention to it, this can damage your heart muscle, and ultimately lead to heart failure.
As we mentioned before, heavy drinking raises your blood pressure, but it also raises your levels of triglycerides, which increases the risk for heart disease and also contributes to cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart muscle. Finally, alcohol also contributes to obesity because of all the calories it has. Being overweight often leads to heart problems if not treated correctly.