For some, it might be hard to realize that alcohol is actually a toxic chemical. Sure, it can make a party more lively and it can bring out the social side of people, but at what cost? The body is severely affected by the continued use of alcohol, and it’s important that the general public know this.
Essentially, there are two toxins in alcohol that the body needs to work hard to eliminate. These are acetaldehyde and acetic acid. Acetaldehyde is a colorless liquid created by oxidizing ethanol. And alcohol is a colorless, flammable liquid that comes in various forms. However, the form that is used in beverages such as wine, beer, and liquor is known as ethyl alcohol. It is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits, which happens when yeast acts upon certain ingredients in food and creates alcohol. Beer and wine are drinks that are fermented and can contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol. And other drinks that are distilled, such as liquor, can contain anywhere from 40% to 50% of alcohol.
No matter the type of alcoholic drink, however, alcohol is dangerous to the body. The liver does the majority of the hard work in processing alcohol and removing it from our system. However, about 10% of alcohol is also eliminated through our breath, sweat, and urine. Whatever is left in the body will slowly be eliminated over the next 7-12 hours following drinking.
Although the liver does the hardest work in eliminating toxins, alcohol use impacts all the other major organs as well. In fact, the head scientist of a study on alcoholism reported the following: “Clearly alcohol abuse can compromise the structure and functionality of several human organs, thus directly increasing the risk of death,” The study mentioned here also revealed that alcoholics may be more at risk for certain types of cancers. This study and other research studies have found that alcoholism can contribute to the following health problems:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- High blood pressure
- Nerve damage
- Night sweats
Furthermore, regular use of alcohol can contribute to glucose intolerance as well as obesity, which are both linked to Type II diabetes.
It should be noted that most countries have a guideline for alcohol use for men and women, For instance, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse, men should avoid drinking no more than 4 drinks in a day or no more than 14 drinks per week. Women should avoid drinking no more than 3 drinks in a day or no more than 7 drinks per week. However, these guidelines are put into place to minimize the damage that alcohol already has on people’s health and well being.
It goes without saying that alcohol also contributes to crime, deadly car accidents, and other forms of substance use. It can also play a role in suicide attempts and one’s overall psychological health.
If you or someone you know is regularly drinking alcohol, consider the above health risks. If you feel you need support in bringing your drinking to an end, contact a mental health provider today.
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