Other Physical Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol Abuse on the Liver
The main effect on physical health that almost everyone is aware of is liver damage. The liver is one of the most important organs in the body as it processes everything that we ingest. It removes toxins that other organs cannot cope with but if it has too much alcohol to deal with, then the toxins in the alcohol will eventually attack the liver itself. The most common liver damage is ‘fatty liver’ caused by the high calorie content in alcohol and which damages the liver’s capability of functioning. Further down the line is cirrhosis which is scarring on the liver. It is irreversible and can be fatal. Another condition caused by excessive alcohol is hepatitis. This is inflammation of the liver. Symptoms include pain in and swelling of the stomach, yellow skin, dark urine, high temperature and vomiting.
Once the liver gets to a certain level of damage, it can fail which will lead to death unless a transplant can be made available.
There is also a link between alcohol consumption and cancer, including breast cancer. One in five (20%) of all alcohol-related deaths are due to cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the greater are your chances of this being a factor in the development of breast cancer. It is estimated that alcohol causes cancer in 4% of breast cancer cases. Do you want to risk being in that 4%? To put it another way, just under one in ten women will get breast cancer before the age of 75. This chance increases to more than one in ten (11%) amongst those who drink every day.
This is because alcohol breaks down into a substance called acetaldehyde, which can cause genetic mutations – a permanent change in the DNA sequence that makes up genes. This can trigger a response from the body leading to the development of cancerous cells.
Alcohol is also known to increase the risk of mouth cancer and cancers of the digestive system.
However, perhaps more damage to physical health is caused by people getting intoxicated and falling over – leading to internal bleeding – or falling from a height leading to broken backs and necks, which can be fatal. (I know of a number of drinkers who have died due to this). Also, people can choke or die on their own vomit when drunk.
Finally, a high consumption of alcohol can lead to hormonal changes with men growing breasts and women growing facial hair. Men can become impotent and alcohol misuse can cause an inability to orgasm, as well as infertility.
Alcohol consumption in pregnancy can lead to physical malformation and mental damage to the unborn child.
Makes you wonder why we drink, doesn’t it?
The Haynes Clinic is an alcohol and drug rehab clinic which offers detox and counselling for people with addictions. Call 01462 851414 for free and confidential advice.