Alcohol and the Body
Alcohol abuse is a rising concern in today’s world. More than 80,000 Americans die each year due to alcohol related incidents, making alcohol the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Alcohol in moderation could be beneficial to some, but unfortunately can and is lethal to others. Drinking in moderation is considered no more than 4 drinks on a single day and no more than 14 drinks a week, for men. For women, moderation is even less, at 3 drinks a day and no more than 7 drinks a week. This is primarily due to women having smaller build and weighing less than men. To consider this moderate, both daily and weekly limitations must be met. (NIAAA).
To define what a standard drink is, one drink contains .6 fluid ounces of alcohol, thus, a 12 ounce glass, can or bottle of beer, which contains about 5% alcohol is one standard drink. An 8-9 ounce drink of malt liquor, 5 ounce glass of wine and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor are all defined as one standard drink.
When the standard and moderate amounts recommended are exceeded we begin to run into abuse, dependency and addiction to alcohol. All three areas are unique to the individual. How much and how often plays a role in the level of abuse, as well as the duration of the amounts consumed. When alcohol is misused, the effects can be limitless and extremely damaging to a person’s life. It can stem out into areas not only that become harmful to one’s health, but family dynamics, as well as social, professional and legal aspects.
The health effects of alcohol are many, including but not limited to, change in brain structure and functions, damage to the heart, liver, pancreas, possible cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver and breast, as well as an effect on your immune system, just to name a few. Alcohol, even on one single occasion, if drank over the moderate amount, can shrink and disturb brain tissue. Heavy drinking over a long period of time, can cause changes to the brain that effect mood, behavior, and memory. It also has an effect on depression, irritability, and may even cause seizures.
Binge drinking and long term heavy drinking plays a part on the condition of your heart. A condition called, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, is the weakening of the heart muscles in which it prevents the heart from contracting normally. Long term and binge drinking can also cause arrhythmia (abnormal heart rate), strokes and hypertension (high blood pressure).
The effects heavy drinking can have on your liver can be over a long period of usage or a very short period. These problems can include, steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis. Fatty liver, also referred to as Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD), can occur when drinking in excess or moderate drinking and can occur over a short period of time. Of the more than 15 million Americans with Alcohol abuse disorders, 90%-100% will develop ‘fatty liver’. (Webmd.com).