Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

July 2, 2018

This week, during Independence Day celebrations, there are bound to be several occasions where beer, wine and spirits will be served. And while it can be fun to pop a top or have a cocktail at the various events and parties you may attend over the 4th of July, it’s important to be mindful of your alcohol consumption.

People often drink to celebrate, socialize and relax. But drinking too much alcohol — on a single occasion or over a long period of time — can take a serious toll on your health. An occasional glass of wine at dinner isn’t cause for concern, but binge drinking or a regular pattern of drinking several days a week can have cumulative effects.

Alcohol impacts your body starts from the moment you take that first sip. Here’s how in effects each part of your body.

  • Liver
    Heavy drinking can lead to a variety of liver problems, including inflammation, steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.
  • Brain
    Alcohol jams your communication pathways, impacting the way the brain works and even looks, which can cause mood and behavior changes. Too much alcohol will also make it hard to think clearly or move with coordination.
  • Heart
    Drinking can cause heart damage, cardiomyopathy, irregular heart beat, high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Immune System
    Drinking weakens your immune system, and chronic drinkers are more likely to get infections or develop pneumonia and tuberculosis. About 10 percent of worldwide tuberculosis cases are tied to alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol also increases your risk for several types of cancer, including liver, mouth, esophagus, breast and colon cancer.
  • Pancreas
    Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic digestive enzymes that can lead to inflammation, swelling of the blood vessels and pancreatitis. Also, when the pancreas and liver aren’t properly functioning properly, you can experience hyper- or hypoglycemia and side effects related to diabetes.
  • Digestive system
    Drinking can lead to gassiness, bloating and diarrhea, while heavier drinking can damage digestive tissue and cause ulcers or hemorrhoids.