How Alcohol Affects Your Body

Drinking to excess is not only dangerous in the short term, but on a regular basis it may seriously damage your health.

Everyone knows that the heavy drinker damages his or her health and risks and risks having accidents on the road, at home, and at work. Heavy drinking is also a major cause of hooliganism, antisocial behavior, and violence in the home, as well as of the breakdown of personal relationships.

Many people, however, drink regularly but never become drunk, violent, or argumentative and so assume that the drinking is not harming them. They are deluding themselves. Regular consumption of substantial amounts of alcohol may damage the liver, the heart and the brain. If a high alcohol in- take a maintained for many years, permanent damage to these organs is inevitable. Alcohol abuse can also cause a number of different types of cancer.

The risks to your physical health from alcohol depend on how much you drink, not how much it affects your behavior. Drinking regularly get your body used to alcohol so that it takes a lot more to produce the same effect. A heavy drinker can drink a lot without appearing drunk. Someone who "can hold their drink’ is therefore a greater risk than someone who can only drink one or two glasses before be-coming affected.


Persistent heavy drinking may damage many different body tissues, resulting in a number of serious diseases.

  • Brain: Alcohol abuse leads to the destruction of brain cells, causing intellectual deterioration, depression, memory loss, and eventually dementia.
  • Skin: Alcoholics often have a persistent flush which is due to damage to blood vessels under the surface of the skin.
  • Mouth, throat, and oesophagus: A high alcohol intake increases the risk of cancers in these organs. Blood vessels around the lower end of the oesophagus may enlarge and bleed easily.
  • Heart and circulation: People who drink heavily are more likely to suffer from blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke. In severe cases, malnutrition due to alcoholism may result in permanent damage the heart muscle.
  • Digestive system: Excessive drinking may result in attacks of severe abdominal pain due to gastritis, pancreatitis or a peptic ulcer.
  • Liver: Alcohol is directly toxic to the liver, so heavy drinking may cause cirrhosis, hepatitis, and even liver cancer.
  • Fat: Because alcohol is rich in calories, obesity is a common problem among heavy drinkers.
  • Nerves: Heavy drinking may cause temporary or permanent damage to nerves; either due to direct toxic effects or as the result of malnutrition, which is a common problem in severe alcoholics.
  • Reproductive system: In men, excess alcohol can lead to impotence (due to nerve damage) or infertility (as a result of a toxic effect on the sperm). In women, heavy drinking commonly causes menstrual problems.
  • Alcohol and pregnancy: Heavy drinking during pregnancy may cause foetal alcohol syndrome, where the baby is born mentally retarded and with a variety of other serious birth defects. Even small amounts of alcohol, increase this risk, so it is better to abstain completely.
Dr. Karuna Chaturvedi
Dietetics Department
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