Health Risks of Alcohol: 12 Health Problems Associated with Chronic Heavy Drinking
It’s no secret that alcohol consumption can cause major health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver and injuries sustained in automobile accidents. But if you think liver disease and car crashes are the only health risks posed by drinking, think again: Researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases.
“Alcohol does all kinds of things in the body, and we’re not fully aware of all its effects,” says James C. Garbutt, MD, “It’s a pretty complicated little molecule.”
Here are 12 conditions linked to chronic heavy drinking.
This can trigger a host of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and light-headedness.
Cancer sites linked to alcohol use include the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal region.
Heavy drinking can cause cardiomyopathy, a potentially deadly condition in which the heart muscle weakens and eventually fails, as well as the heart rhythm abnormalities.
Alcohol is toxic to liver cells, and many heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, a sometimes-lethal condition in which the liver is so heavily scarred that it is unable to function. But it’s hard to predict which drinkers will develop cirrhosis. “Some people who drink huge amounts never get cirrhosis, and some who don’t drink very much do get it,” Saitz says. For some unknown reason, women seem to be especially vulnerable.
As people age, their brains shrink, on average, at a rate of about 1.9% per decade. That’s considered normal. But heavy drinking speeds the shrinkage of certain key regions in the brain, resulting in memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.
Heavy drinking can also lead to subtle but potentially debilitating deficits in the ability to plain, make judgments and solve problems.
It’s long been known that heavy drinking often goes hand in hand with depression.
Research has also shown that depression goes away when many heavy drinkers go on the wagon.
Heavy drinking can cause epilepsy and can trigger seizures even in people who don’t have epilepsy.
Although some cases are largely hereditary, alcohol and other dietary factors seem to play a role. Alcohol also seems to aggravate existing cases of gout.
High blood pressure
Heavy drinking can cause blood pressure to rise. Over time, this effect can become chronic. High blood pressure can lead to many other health problems, including kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke.
Heavy drinking suppresses the immune system, providing a toehold for infections, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. People who drink heavily also are more likely to engage in risky sex.
Heavy drinking can cause a form of nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy, which can produce muscle weakness, incontinence, constipation, erectile dysfunction, and other problems.
In addition to causing stomach irritation (gastritis), drinking can inflame the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis interferes with the digestive process, causing abdominal pain and persistent diarrhea –and it’s not fixable,
Full story at; Web MD