Here Are Some Of The Negative Effects Alcohol Can Have On The Human Body

While a glass of wine with dinner or a few beers on game day may seem harmless, alcohol abuse, alcohol dependency, and binge drinking can all have serious effects on the human body. Research consistently shows how excessive drinking over prolonged periods of time can affect essentially every part of the body, including skin, hair, and even sexual performance.

There are also mental health consequences, such as increased depression and decreased brain function. In the most serious cases, drinking can lead to diabetes, liver disease, and even cancer.

Below, we'll examine some of the most common ways alcohol can negatively impact the human body.

Photo:

  • Alcohol's Empty Calories Can Cause Weight Gain

    Studies show that the calories in alcohol can quickly add up depending on a person's drink of choice. A 12-ounce bottle of beer holds an average of 150 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of red wine can hold 125 calories. Hard liquors like whisky, vodka, gin, and rum can pack 100 calories in just a 1.5-ounce shot glass.

    Health experts typically advise a 2,000-calorie daily diet for most adults, so a few beers after work or a glass of wine with dinner can quickly add up over time. After all, the body metabolizes alcohol directly into fat that doesn't convert into usable cellular energy.

    In addition, mixed drinks often contain large amounts of sugar and lack nutritional value. For instance, a blended margarita can contain 500 calories, or a quarter of an individual's daily caloric intake.

  • Alcohol Can Compromise The Immune System

    Increased alcohol consumption can lead to a compromised immune system that's less able to fight off illness and disease. Researchers have shown that individuals who abuse alcohol have vitamin deficiencies across the board, especially in necessary nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, D, E, and K.

    The result can be decreased metabolic function and cellular generation, as well as a depressed immune system that puts the body at risk for secondary diseases.

    Nutritional deficiencies affect both the innate immune system, which is responsible for fighting off diseases in the first place, and the adaptive immune system, which is supposed to recognize and more efficiently combat diseases that the body has faced before. It suppresses the growth of disease fighters like white blood cells, T-cells, and antibodies, throwing off the production and management of other critical components like cytokines, interferon, and natural killer (NK) cells - the cells responsible for destroying viruses and cancers.

  • Excessive Drinking Can Lead To Liver Disease

    The process of breaking down more alcohol than the liver can handle often results in something known as "fatty liver disease." The disease can become progressively worse over time, irritating and damaging healthy tissue in the liver. Individuals may feel fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain. In the most serious cases, individuals can experience abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, and jaundice. The end results are typically kidney failure, stroke, and even death.

    Many doctors believe that a major factor in liver failure is an autoimmune component brought on by the body's inability to tell good cells from bad. Lymphocytes and white blood cells that were previously focused on warding off outside intruders begin turning on the liver itself.

  • Alcohol Abuse Can Lead To Diabetes

    Alcohol consumption can create swings in blood sugar levels and insulin production, initially causing blood sugar levels to rise since alcohol is metabolized into the bloodstream rather than going through the stomach first. The liver cleans out the alcohol's toxins and breaks down all those sugars, but on average, it takes the liver one to two hours to metabolize a single drink.

    In the case of excessive drinking, the liver is less capable of regulating blood sugar levels. Alcohol abuse over time diminishes the liver's ability to process insulin, which can lead to both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, as well as type 2 diabetes.

  • Alcohol Abuse Can Lead To Heart Problems

    Excessive drinking and binge drinking can both lead to serious heart issues if sustained for enough time. Being a consistently heavy drinker can raise blood pressure over time and lead to hypertension. Hypertension can in turn result in a heart attack if not properly treated.

    This type of drinking also affects the overall strength of the heart, leading to decreased efficiency in how it pumps blood to the rest of the body. Binge drinking can also lead to an irregular heartbeat for some individuals. Other health concerns relating to drinking and the heart include cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure.

  • Alcohol Can Seep Out Of Pores

    Consuming large amounts of alcohol can often result in bad breath and even body odor as the body works to metabolize the alcohol. Since the liver can only metabolize about one 12-ounce beer per hour, 90% of alcohol is broken down through oxidation. This process causes alcohol to seep out of the body's pores, which can cause people to smell like what they drank the night before.

    As far as breath is concerned, alcohol can also be expelled through the respiratory system as it breaks down in the stomach. Again, this can cause bad breath and an aftertaste from drinking.