41 Deadly Health Effects of Alcohol : Short & Long Terms

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Do you often enjoy alcoholic drink while hangouts or in party? Yes, drinking alcohol is usually fun for some people and it has been a culture to drink alcohol in some countries. Alcohol has become a culture in our society nowadays especially western people. People will feel incomplete if they didnt enjoy alcohol like champagne in wedding party, or youth people who drink beer while having party or hangouts with friends.

Know first, what is alcohol ?

Alcohol or called as ethanol or ethyl alcohol is the ingredient which found in some beverage such as beer, wine and other beverages which causes drunkenness. Alcohol is produced by fermentation process requiring yeast. The yeast breaks down without oxygen) the sugars in different kind of food materials;

  • for example wine is made from sugar which contained in grapes,
  • beer from the sugar in grain especially malted barley ,
  • sake from rice,
  • cider from the sugar in apples,
  • and vodka from the sugar in beets, potatoes or other kind of plants.

Ethanol or alcohol is a byproduct of metabolic process of yeast. It is also commonly found in overripe fruit. Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-razi (854 CE – 925 CE ) an Iranian alchemist was the first person who discovered alcohol in its pure form (ethanol). He got the pure form of alcohol through wine distilation process.

In chemistry, alcohol is described as organic compound in which the hydroxyl functional group (–OH) is bound to a saturated carbon atom. The term alcohol which is used nowadays originally referred to the the primary form of alcohol ethanol (ethyl alcohol), which are contained in alcoholic beverages.

The word alcohol derived from Arabic word “al kuhl” which means powder used as eyeliner. Alcohol also appear in English term as “very fine powder” during sixteenth century.This powder which produce by sublimation of stibnite was used as antiseptic, eyeliner and cosmetic.Later we found the function of alcohol as antiseptic as well.

History of Alcohol

Human has known alcohol in different types of beverages since thousands years ago. Long time ago people has started to fermented the grain and fruit to produce drinks. In early 2700 BC, babylonians has worshiped their wine goddess The Babylonians worshiped a wine goddess as early as 2700 B.C and they used to offer the wine for the god and goddess.. In Greece, mead, a fermented drink made from water and honey is popular as first alcoholic drink. .

Alcohol which contained in fermented beverages has existed in early Egyptian society in 3150 BC and people in India has produced alcoholic beverages called “sura which are made from distilled rice before 3000 BC. There is also some evidence that shown people in China has consumed alcohol since 7000 BC.

It is known that wine was first appeared in Georgia from 6000 BC and 5400 BC in Iran. Alcohol beverages manufacturing has been started since 15th century. Nowadays alcoholic drink has been spread world wide and manufacturing most by Europian and American.

Short Terms Effects of Alcohol

Effects of alcohol divided into 2 type, short terms and long term, first you must know what effects directly you feel after drink alcohol in low, medium, and high doses.

In low doses, alcohol produces:

  1. A relaxing your body effect
  2. Lowered inhibitions
  3. Reduced tension
  4. Slow reflexes
  5. Poor concentration
  6. Slow reaction time
  7. Slower your brain activity
  8. Reduced coordination
  9. Perceptions and Sensations that are less clear

In medium doses, alcohol produces:

  1. Feel sleepy
  2. Slurred speech
  3. Poor vision
  4. Altered emotions
  5. Lower core body temperature
  6. Sleepiness and disruption of sleeping patterns
  7. More blood flow to skin surface
  8. Increased urine production

In high doses, below are dangerous effects of alcohol:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Uncontrolled defecation
  3. Uncontrolled urination
  4. Breathing difficulties
  5. Alcohol poisoning
  6. Passing out
  7. Coma
  8. Possible death

Long Term Health Effects of Alcohol

Some people keep enjoying alcohol while they do not consider that alcohol may cause long term effects to their health. Here are some health risk which may rise as long term effect of alcohol. Check these out

1. Promotes abnormalities in blood and anemia

Heavy consumption of alcohol is really dangerous for health. Based on some research reported that alcohol promotes abnormalities in blood such as lowering blood haemoglobin ( component that bring oxygen to whole body) and causing anemia. Alcohol also suppresses immune system function. Consuming alcohol for long time has significant effect to the number and the function of white blood cell. People who consume alcohol heavily over a long time are more easier to caught by infection and may suffer from severe infections after surgery, trauma, hepatitis C infection, even severe inflamation like HIV aids

2. Damage brain cells

This one is frightening. Chronic heavy alcohol use can cause mild to serious damage to brain and nerves in many ways. Alcohol inhibit the absorption of thiamin or Vitamin B1 from gut which are important for brain. Deficiency thiamine can lead to acute, severe life-threatening disorder such as Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which usually show symptoms like paralyzed eye movement, confusion and difficulity while walking. It has been proved that alcohol can higher the risk of losing memory condition or Korsakoff’s syndrome that are well known as dementia.

3. Causing insomnia
Yes it is true that some alcohol may be can treat insomnia for some individuals. It is beacause alcohol has sedative effect. Later it is found that the sedative effect of alcohol can increase the risk of excessive use. If one or more drinks are taken in evening, it can disrupt sleep and increase the chances of waking in the midnight. Usually it will cause individual hardly back to sleep after wake up.

4. Increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke is a condition of stroke which is caused by bleeding in the brain. Alcohol may interupt with blood supply to brain and this may lead to several symptoms such as inability to talk, sudden paralysis, lose of sensation. However, using alcohol in low to moderate amount can reduce the risk of ischaemic stroke which is caused by blockage of the blood vessels in the brain, but remember higher levels of alcohol consumption can increase the risk of ischaemic stroke

5. Increase the risk of breast cancer

Long-term and higher alcohol consumption can increases the risk of breast cancer in women. The risk will be increased by about 10 percen for every one standard drink of alcohol per day on average. World cancer research fund reported that women who drinks five standard drinks per day has 1.2 times higher risk of cancer compared to non – drinkers. Almost 11 percents of people who suffer breast cancer are alcohol drinkers.

6. Decreased vision

Chronic alcohol use not only inhibit the absorption of Vitamin B1 but also Vitamin B12 which are important to eyes and vision. This may lead to blurred vision and even some fatal vision problem.

7. Increase the risk heart disease.

Heavy drinking (chronic and/or consuming alcohol at a single session) can promote irregular heartbeats and chronic heart muscle disease which lead to heart failure moreover a sudden death. Drinking alcohol to ‘protect the heart’ is not advisable, since alcohol is an addictive drug that can cause heart disease.

8. Increase blood pressure

Drinking more than two or three drinks a day can increase blood pressure especially in men. Peope who consume alcohol heavily tend to have problem with high blood pressure or hypertension. Alcohol also trigger the production of certain stress hormone in body which promote vasoconstriction or constriction of blood vessel that lead to higher blood pressure.

9. Higher the risk of Intestine cancer

Alcohol can lead to some disease in stomach and malnutrition due to low vitamin levels, as the absoption of vitamins and other minerals is blocked by alcohol. Long- term alcohol use can promote the high number of toxin and free radicals in body which cause large bowel/intestine and rectum cancer.

10. Disturb kidney function and damaging kidney

Alcohol is a diuretic, which mean that it causes water lost from the body. Many minerals which are important for the body also will be throw away by consuming alcohol. Alcohol is also toxic which will push kidney to work harder and without enough water, it will seriously create problem such as nephron damage and kidney failure.

11. Causing liver damage

Heavy alcohol consumption can damage the liver and causing alcoholic liver disease. This including fatty liver, cirrhosis and acute alcoholic hepatitis. Heavy drinker is usually common with fatty liver, it is a condition where fat builds up in the liver cells. Small percentage of people with fatty liver can develop hepatitis, chirosis and even cancer.

Almost 10 to 35 percents heavy alcohol drinkers develop hepatitis. Alcoholic hepatitis is an acute injury to liver which show some symptoms of feeling tiredness, swollen stomach, jaundice (yellow skin and whites of eyes and tender liver even more fatal it can cause death.

While only 5 to 15 percents of heavy drinkers suffer from cirrhosis. Chirosis is serious liver cell damage which cause the liver cant do the it function especially to detoxify the body, , creating vital proteins, store vitamins and sugars, and also produce chemicals which are important for digestion system. Cirrhosis can also lead to liver failure and death.

12. Causing pneunomonia and tuberculosis in Lung

Chronic heavy alcohol use usually associated with higher rates of lung disease such as pneumonia and tuberculosis (an infectious disease or acute respiratory syndrome which can cause blood coughing and affect other body part ). This condition may rise since alcohol suppress the immune system and make the less protected. The bacteria will be easier to infected the lung and making people more vulnerable to diseases.

13. Increases the risk of miscarriage

Woman who consume alcohol during pregnancy will increase the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature baby and stillbirth . It can also cause significant abnormalities of fetus or developing baby in womb which called as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Children who birth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorder (FAS) will has smaller brain size compared to normal one. This condition will affected the longlife of children and causing problem in the process of study and behavioral pattern.

14, Lead to mental disorder and dependency

Alcohol is belong addictive substance and can lead to addiction or dependency. This is why people who often consume alcohol will requires more alcohol for the body to achieve the desired effect example an altered mood. Alcohol sometime associated with personal life problem and can cause serious mental problem. The symptoms include shaking of the hands and shivering which commonly occurs the morning after drinking session and may only relieved by consuming more alcohol. If alcohol is not taken, individual will start to suffer a discomfort feeling. The most severe syndrome of mental disturbance in heavy drinkers is ‘delirium tremens’ a condition of altered and confused mind which develop in about 5 percents chronic drinkers. This syndrom also may lead to death

15 increase depression and anxiety

Heavy alcohol drinkers , commonly experience mood disorders, including anxiety, depression, and psychosis (a mental illness defined by personality changes, a difficulity to differ sense of reality, and delusions.

16. Causing Mouth and throat cancer

Seven among ten people who are heavy drinkers suffer from mouth cancer. Alcohol is proven as carcinogen (substance which causing cancer). Regular alcohol intake may increases the risk of mouth, throat or even voice box cancer. Consuming about 50g alcohol per day (five standard drinks) increases the risk of these types of cancers by two to three times compared with non-drinkers, but the risk will increased more for smoking people. So it is true that if you drinking more increases the risk of cancers, and drinking less decreases the risk of cancers.

17. Promote acute pancreatitis

Chronic heavy alcohol consumption may lead to acute pancreatitis, a condition of severe pancreas inflammation. As we know that the pancreas is a gland that secretes enzymes for digestion system and also the main factory which releases insulin ( hormone which regulates sugar levels in the blood) . Chronic pancreatitis typically occurs in individul mostly at aged 30 to 40 years and it can cause weight loss, abdominal pain, diabetes, malnutrition and oily bowel motions (it is associated with pancreas function which helps to digest fat and when the pancreas is damaged, the fats cant be absorbed to the body but it will be excreted out of the bowel. The risk of acute and chronic pancreatitis will significantly increases by the higher intake of alcohol.

18. Lead to Impotence

Chronic heavy alcohol consumption may rise several sexual problems. Alcohol has a bad effect to testosteron level in man. It can lead to impotence, loss of sex desire, wasting of the testicles and reduced fertility. While in women, chronic heavy alcohol intake can reduced fertility and causing irregularity on period or even early menopouse.

19 . Increasing body fat and weight

Dont think that alcohol doesnt contain calories. Alcohol is known as high-calorie beverage. One standard drink of alcohol contains 290kcal. Alcohol is also can increase appetite which lead people eat more while consuming alcohol along with their meals. This is why alcohol can stimulate weight gain and the number of body fat.

20 . Higher the risk of oesophagus cancer

Long-term alcohol consumption can cause oesophagus or food pipe cancer. Consuming 50g of alcohol a day (five standard drinks) higher the risk twice, compared to non-drinker. However, East Asian populations has greater risk to develop this cancer if consuming alcohol since they are lack of a liver enzyme which can metabolize the alcohol. Smoker also build higher risk of suffering this cancer if they also addicted to alcohol.

21. Leads to chronic gasthritis

Heavy consumption of alcohol may cause chronic gasthritis. In the case of damage liver, it will also create a significant effects to digestion especially to stomach and further it can cause stomach swelling on stomach vein and causing acute bleeding. Even some research reported that alcohol may help to protect stomach lining from infection of Helicobacter phylori, it is not suggested to consume it daily.

Tips for lowering risk of drinking alcohol

What is a standard drink in alcohol 

A standard alcohol drink or beverage contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. Usually the number of percentage of alcohol is provided in the label of alcoholic beverage. To count the number of standard drinks of alcohol we can use this formula:

Amount of drink in litres (Vol) x Percent by volum eof alcohol (%) x Density of ethanol at room temperature (0.789)

For example: 500ml of beer which is 5 percent alcohol by volume:

  • 0.5 x 5 x 0.789 = 1.97 (approx 2 standard drinks)

How many drinks are in common containers?

Below is the approximate number of standard drinks in different sized containers of

Regular beer                   Malt liquor            table wine                            80-proof distilled spirits
12 fl oz = 1                            12 fl oz = 1½           750 ml a shot                         (1.5 oz glass/50 mlbottle) = 1
16 fl oz = 1                            16 fl oz = 2      (a regular wine                     a mixed drink or cocktail = 1 or more
22 fl oz = 2                            22 fl oz = 2½    bottle = 2)                                      200 ml (a “half pint”) = 4½
40 fl oz = 3                           40 fl oz = 4½                                            375 ml (a “pint” or “half bottle”) = 8½
750 ml (a “fifth”) = 17

It is possible if you still wanna enjoy alcohol with lower risk. 

There are a some things that you can make sure you do not develop the high risk while consuming alcohol.  These include:

  • when you wanna drink alcohol, you better know what a standard drink is
  • reduce alcohol intake and always Keep the alcohol track of how much you drink from daily to weekly.
  • Set your limits for for alcohol and keep your mind stick the rule
  • If you can choose drink in a party better start with non-alcoholic drinks and alternate with alcoholic   drinks
  • Drink slowly it will make you think to take more
  • If possible try to drink alcohol beverage with a lower alcohol content
  • Alcohol may directly effect your stomach so don”t skip meal before or while you are drinking
  • Never drink alcohol while you driving
  • Older people should consider to drink more than two standard drink in a day.
  • Be a responsible to consume and save alcohol. Store it away from children
  • If possible, try to reduce your alcohol intake and slowly leave alcohol permanently. It maybe make you suffer but for the sake of your health you can give it a try.

Those are some explanation that you may understand and keep the points in your mind. Consuming alcohol in low amount may give some benefits but it is need a concern when you consuming heavy number of alcohol you must prepare for the effect that may come in future. Keep your body and mind healthy is all in your hands. So, if you still want to continue drink, at least be a lower risk drinker.