April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCAAD) to bring thought and awareness to the stigma around alcoholism, its causes, and the recovery options available. Each April, the NCAAD and other affiliates come together to address the nation’s #1 public health problem—alcoholism. Let’s take a closer look into the negative effects alcohol can have on your overall health.
Your liver is where alcohol is where alcohol is metabolized if, on average, you drink more than one drink per hour. This means that continued heavy drinking can take a toll on your liver, leading to a variety of problems ranging from fibrosis and cirrhosis to alcoholic Hepatitis and fatty liver disease. The liver metabolizes alcohol into a chemical that can be toxic to the body and may cause certain types of cancers.
When alcohol is consumed, it raises blood pressure and lipids, which increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Prolonged drinking or binge drinking can damage the heart, producing issues like high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeats and cardiomyopathy.
Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas preventing proper digestion. Pancreatitis is also a major risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer. ‘
Weakened Immune System
Chronic alcohol consumption can severely weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to certain diseases. Heavy drinkers are much more likely to contract illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who consume alcohol in moderation.
Increased Risk of Cancer
Alcoholism can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast cancers. Research suggests that even one drink a day can increase someone’s risk of breast cancer. Estrogen levels are raised when alcohol is consumed, raising the risk of developing breast cancer.
Drinking can even have a long-term and short-term effects on the brain, researchers say. When you drink, the brain releases excess amounts of neurotransmitters like dopamine. Receiving too much of these naturally occurring neurotransmitters can elicit side effects like increased heart rate, increased levels of aggression and depression. Drinking also releases an increase of endorphins, which carry a natural “pain-relieving” chemical. Augmented endorphin release can cause side effects like depression, infertility, fatigue and lowered testosterone, just to name a few.
Alcohol causes the stomach to produce more acid than normal, which can cause gastritis or inflammation and irritation in the stomach lining. This can eventually lead to dangerous ulcers and bleeding within the stomach.
Excessive alcohol consumption can be detrimental to your overall health and wellness. While you might find the short-term effects of alcohol fun, the long-term issues are not worth binge drinking. To learn more about Alcohol Awareness Month, visit https://www.ncadd.org/about-ncadd/events-awards/alcohol-awareness-month. We hope this helped inform you on things to consider when picking up a drink!