More than likely, if you’re over the age of 21 (or under for all you rebels and Europeans out there) you have experienced the effects of alcohol, and unfortunately, probably the most obvious one is the raging hangover the following day. However, alcohol can have further negative consequences than just a pounding headache and cravings for burgers – in fact, it can be downright deadly to various parts of your body.
It is common knowledge that alcohol can directly affect liver function and it’s the organ primarily burdened with the responsible of filtering the blood. Excessive drinking may lead to all kinds of liver diseases such as Steatosis (fatty liver), fibrosis, liver inflammation, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
While a good stiff bourbon might relax you after a long day or ease your inhibitions enough to spontaneously ask for that cute bartender’s number, alcohol can actually cause substantial personality changes over time.
Long-term drinking has been shown to scramble neuron pathways, which can lead to mood swings, chronic memory loss, and a high alcohol tolerance that may eventually create an addiction or dependency to function “normally”.
Another organ that takes a hard hit from alcohol is the pancreas. This underrated organ produces vital digestive enzymes and insulin for the body. However, when soaked in too much booze, it becomes inflamed and in due course can turn into pancreatitis. This uncomfortable and sometimes lethal disease can be acute or chronic, the latter of which is often a stepping stone to diabetes.
In general, drinking beyond your limit slows down and weakens your immune system, affecting your body’s ability to ward off disease. While for many this could only mean an extra flu or two a year, but in others, alcohol can be a catalyst for cancer of the throat, mouth, breast, and digestive tract, among others.
The good news is that it’s not all bad news regarding the effects of booze on the body. A moderate amount of alcohol (1-2 glasses a day) can relieve stress, raise “good” cholesterol levels (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) and thin the blood, all contributing to a healthier, happier heart. On the flip side, exceeding this limit might have the reverse effect and cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, or stroke.
Alcohol is a drug – always talk to your doctor about your alcohol consumption.