Alcohol and Your Health
Of course, alcohol consumption can have many negative affects immediately on your physical health -- such as having a hang over or even alcohol poisoning, which is discussed in another area of this section. And there are other emotional consequences that can often be associated with consuming too much alcohol, such as making poor decisions and choices that can sometimes be life-changing.
However, it is the continued use of alcohol over a period of time that is normally considered when discussing alcohol and health consequences. Studies have shown that alcohol increases the risk of a number of diseases.
- AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
There's a definite connection between alcohol and AIDS. Remember, alcohol decreases judgment. You are prone to take risks when you are drunk that you would never consider – and with people you’d never consider – when you are sober. This same lack of judgment may also result in sexually transmitted diseases.
Alcohol can also cause stomach ulcers that lead to internal bleeding.
- Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning may occur if you drink too much, too fast.
Recent evidence suggests a connection between heavy alcohol consumption and an increase in cancers of the upper digestive tract, esophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx. Two to four percent of all cancer cases are thought to be caused, either directly or indirectly, by alcohol.
- Heart Disease
While alcohol is a “muscle relaxant” for most of your body, it may cause your heart to beat faster or irregularly. An elevated or irregular heart rate can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) and ultimately, heart disease. People who average 2-3 drinks each day are 40% more likely to develop hypertension by age 40; 3-4 drinks a day increases the risk to 50%, and those who average 6-7 drinks a day are twice as likely to develop hypertension.
- Liver Disease
Cirrhosis of the liver is a common health problem of alcoholics. Cirrhosis stops the liver from clearing toxins from the body, which can cause a type of poisoning.
- Depression leading to Suicide
Alcohol affects the part of your brain that controls mood and judgment. The more you become depressed, the more you drink; the more you drink, the more depressed you become. The hopelessness of depression may lead to thoughts of suicide as a way out.