Do you like to drink beer? How often do you go to bars and drink with your co-workers or friends? How much do you usually drink? Have you blacked out or gotten into an accident because of drinking too much?
Alcohol is a highly addictive and toxic substance that can be bad for you if you consume a lot of it. Its primary ingredient is ethanol, which is a psychoactive compound that makes you drunk. It can affect not only your mental state, mood, and behavior, but also your cardiovascular health, sexual function, and other aspects of your health.
What happens to your body when you drink alcohol?
Different people have different reactions when drinking alcohol. Some can get wasted after only a couple of drinks, while others can finish an entire bottle without feeling any different. There are even those that get red and itchy bumps on the skin, which is a common symptom of alcohol intolerance. The following are some of the factors that influence people’s reactions to alcohol:
- Ethnicity or race
- Physical fitness level
- How fast and how much alcohol was consumed
- Use of prescription drugs, prohibited drugs, etc.
- How much food was consumed before drinking
- History of alcoholism in the family
How much alcohol is too much?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, moderate alcohol drinking is defined as:
- For women – maximum of 1 drink per day
- For men – maximum of 2 drinks per day
(A standard drink is equivalent to 0.6 ounces or 14.0 grams of pure alcohol.)
If you drink more than that, you will be considered binge drinking or excessively drinking alcohol, which is a practice that increases your blood alcohol concentration or BAC to at least 0.08% and makes you more likely to develop health problems.
Below are 6 reasons why you should not drink too much alcohol:
It can increase your risk of heart disease
Did you know that heart disease is the number one cause of death these days? It is a health problem that includes several diseases, including heart attack and stroke. If you cannot control your drinking, your risk of suffering from these conditions greatly increases.
There are many studies that have found evidence that alcohol, if consumed in moderation, can actually be beneficial. Their findings show that moderate alcohol intake can increase the good cholesterol or HDL levels in the bloodstream, reduce blood pressure levels, lower your risk of blood clots, prevent diabetes, and temporarily manage anxiety and stress levels.
However, if consumed excessively, alcohol can do the opposite. It can raise your cholesterol and blood pressure levels to very high levels, make you very likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes, worsen your diabetes, and aggravate your bad mood and mental health issues.
It can damage your liver
The liver is one of the most essential organs in the body. It plays a key role in hundreds of bodily functions and processes, including neutralizing the toxic substances, such as alcohol, that enters your body.
So, if you drink too much alcohol, your liver has to work a lot harder than usual. Over time, this can lead to the development of serious diseases known collectively as alcoholic liver diseases, which include the following:
- Fatty liver – This is a condition that occurs when excess amounts of fat build up in your liver cells. According to studies, it often strikes those who drink more than 0.5 ounces of alcohol a day.
- Cirrhosis – This is a condition characterized as a late stage of scarring of the liver, and can trigger various complications, such as portal hypertension, swelling in the abdomen and the legs, spleen enlargement, and hepatic encephalopathy.
It can contribute to sexual dysfunction
Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause sexual health problems. The substances contained in alcohol can mess up your body’s hormones and impair proper function.
One of the most important of them all is testosterone, which is essential in the sexual and reproductive development of men. Also called the primary male sex hormone, it plays a vital role in:
- The growth and development of the penis, testicles, prostate, and other sexual parts
- The regulation of libido or sex drive
- The production of sperm
If you drink too much, your testosterone levels will decrease, and lead to low sperm count, reduced sperm quality, low libido, and trouble getting and sustaining erections, increasing your risk of infertility and erectile dysfunction.
It can interfere with your brain function
Certain research studies have found that long-term and excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the size of your brain’s frontal lobes, negatively impacting your problem-solving abilities, language, memory, motor function, impulse control, judgment, social behavior, and sexual function.
This is why people who get so drunk and blackout do not have any recollection of what they did before or during drinking once they wake up. This is also why people who are alcohol dependent tend to get moody and irritable, and experience a decline in their performance in school or at work.
It can increase your risk of certain cancers
The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program considers alcohol as a human carcinogen. According to their research, people who drink alcohol in large amounts can develop a higher risk of alcohol-associated cancer over time.
- Liver cancer – Alcohol is considered as a leading cause of liver cancer.
- Esophageal cancer – Alcohol has been found as a huge risk factor for this type of cancer.
- Head and neck cancer – This cancer is highly likely to affect those who drink 3.5 or more drinks a day. The risk increases even more with the use of tobacco.
It can weaken your immune system
Excessive alcohol consumption can impair your immune system, making you very vulnerable to infections and other illnesses.
Certain studies have found that chronic alcohol drinkers have a much higher risk of tuberculosis and pneumonia than those who know how to control their intake.