We all know what alcohol can do to your body. In the short term, it makes you drunk, and in the slightly longer term, it makes you hungover. But what even longer term effects does drinking too much alcohol have on your body?
There are obvious negative effects of alcohol, like liver problems, skin problems, and circulation problems, not to mention weight gain and a decrease in motor functions. But what are the other ways alcohol hurts? Ibrahim Hanouneh, MD, who works in gastroenterology and hepatology at the Cleveland Clinic, shares some lesser-known problems associated with alcohol consumption.
1. Alcohol takes priority. When you consume any alcohol, your body makes breaking down the alcohol its top priority. Your body cannot store alcohol (like with proteins, carbs, and fats), so your liver works extra hard to detoxify your entire body by removing the alcohol from the blood. This slows down and confuses the body which is why you get drunk, and because your liver has to work so hard, it is more likely to be problematic later.
2. Bacteria grows in your gut. Alcohol abuse often leads to intestinal bacteria growth. These bacteria can migrate through the intestinal wall. This is problematic on its own, but when the bacteria gets into the liver it can cause serious damage. Even a single night of drinking can damage the intestinal lining.
3. Your heart will become weakened. 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. leads to drinking, or drinking leads to depression is still not .
4. You’ll develop pancreatitis. Your pancreas produces insulin, which allows the food you eat to be used as energy. Pancreatitis is an inflammation in the pancreas, where it becomes inflamed and starts to slow down insulin production. Pancreatitis typically brings high blood pressure and can even cause malabsorption syndrome and diabetes.
5. Risk for cancer. Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, breast, and, of course, liver, have been associated with alcoholism.
6. A stressed immune system. Drinking alcohol, especially binge drinking, stresses your entire system. A stressed immune system opens the body to infection, disease, and worse.
Doctors suggest drinking red wine can be good for you, but I would still take caution. Dr. Hanouneh says healthy people can still drink, but certainly not every day, or even most days of the week. All this said, alcohol is best avoided, but can be fine in moderation.
Alcohol addiction is a slippery slope that can lead to pancreatitis, liver failure and worse. There are also links to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Drinking alcohol has massive health implications that are hard, if not impossible to reverse.