EL | EN
HOME RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL EFFECTS PER LIFE STAGE ALCOHOL AND YOUNG PEOPLE ALCOHOL AND PARENTS ALCOHOL AND DRIVING ADULTERATION OF ALCOHOLIC DRINKS TIPS ACTIONS PRESS RELEASES PROFILE USEFUL LINKS CONTACT
How does alcohol affect your body?

Introduction

Alcohol is absorbed into your body through the stomach and the small intestine and the blood carries it to the heart, brain, muscles and other tissues. Your body cannot store alcohol and therefore it breaks it down.

Your body’s ability to process alcohol depends on your age, weight and sex.

The effects in your body are various and different.

Women and Men

The gender plays its role
Sorry ladies, but you can’t drink as much alcohol as men. It is not a male conspiracy but a biological fact!

Women have less body fluid than men so the concentration of alcohol in their blood (BAC) is proportionally higher. So, if a woman weighing 60 kg drinks two
units of alcohol, then a man of the same size will need to drink 3 units in order to reach the same alcohol level in his blood.

There is evidence that women have larger amounts of the enzyme ADH (which is responsible for breaking down alcohol in the liver and in the walls of the stomach) and that this might contribute to the higher BAC levels.
 

Beauty

The excessive consumption of alcohol affects negatively the appearance of women as well as men. The systematic consumption of alcohol dehydrates the body and skin. This happens because it blocks the release of anti-diuretic hormones and the kidneys excrete the excessive amount of water.

The excessive amounts of alcohol dilate blood vessels under the skin, causing ugly veins on the nose and cheeks.

Bad smell: The liver metabolizes most alcohol, but 5-10% is excreted through the urine, breath andsweat.

Vision

The excessive consumption of alcohol dilates blood vessels of eyes making them look red and «bloody».

It also affects the signals sent from the eyes to the brain; the vision becomes blurred, and distances and speeds get harder to judge. For that reason, drivers and pedestrians with high levels of alcohol in their blood get involved in many
car accidents.

Blood and intestines

Excessive alcohol irritates the stomach and can lead to nausea, cramps, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
 
The consumption of food before or while drinking slows down the absorption of alcohol into the blood.
 

Heart

Coronary heart disease is the main cause of death in Europe, responsible for approximately 30% of deaths. The responsible consumption of alcohol may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke mainly in men over 40 and in postmenopausal women, when the risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke significantly increase.

However, the consumption of alcohol is not recommended if you have high blood pressure. If someone is suffering from a heart disease, he can drink alcohol moderately only if alcohol does not affect his medication. In all cases, he should take the doctor’s advice.

On the contrary, the excessive consumption of alcohol puts pressure on the heart and increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke and heart disease.

It is thought that alcohol itself and not a specific drink accounts for 75% of the cardio-protective effects of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol favourably alters the balance of fats or lipids in the blood, by stimulating the liver to produce the ‘good’ high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL). HDL removes the ‘bad’ low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) from arteries and veins for disposal via the bile.

Alcohol decreases the clotting or ‘stickiness’ of red blood cells, which, if not treated, could form a clot that will block blood flow in an artery or vein causing a heart attack or stroke.

According to recent research, having one or two drinks a day, for men, and one drink, for women, does not deteriorate a heart disease.

Exceeding this limit can significantly increase the blood pressure which aggravates heart diseases.

Liver

The liver breaks down most of the alcohol we drink. (The rest is excreted from the body through breath, urine and sweat.) The liver contains enzymes that break down alcohol to water and carbon dioxide which are harmless to our body.

However, the liver can only break down approximately one unit of alcohol per hour in adults; the rest circulates in the blood, brain and organs. Alcohol will continue to circulate until it has all been broken down by the liver.
If the body cannot cope with the alcohol in its system, the person will pass out or, in extreme cases, fall into a coma (which can be fatal).

The long-term and systematic consumption of alcohol neutralizes liver cells, leading to severe liver diseases.

The long-term consumption of alcohol may also lead to liver cancer or other types of cancer.

Liver diseases due to excessive and systematic consumption of alcohol

Fatty liver – accumulation of fat. This can occur after a single occasion of excessive drinking or as a result of regular drinking over the recommended limits. It reverses very quickly when alcohol is excreted and does not leave any permanent damage. However, if regular drinking continues then about 15 – 20% of individuals will develop more serious liver diseases in the form of alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Alcoholic hepatitis
– an inflammation that can range from mild to acute. Individuals with mild to moderate alcoholic hepatitis may not know that they have liver damage while individuals with acute alcoholic hepatitis may develop liver failure. Alcoholic hepatitis may reverse in many individuals if they stop drinking immediately.

Alcoholic cirrhosis – it is the result of a process where normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue, eventually leading to the liver’s inability to function properly. Individuals with cirrhosis derived from alcohol may not have any symptoms or signs or may develop several complications such as jaundice, fluid retention or serious bleeding from the gullet. Although alcoholic cirrhosis is not reversible, stopping alcohol can play a significant role to the survival of the patient.

Brain

Alcohol acts as a depressant on the brain, the control center of the body. It can make the person who drinks feel happy for a little while but that is usually followed by depression.

The long-term consumption of alcohol may destroy brain cells and cause memory loss and mental problems.

Alcohol
«steals» waterfromthebrain. So, as the body starts to metabolize the alcohol, the person may feel dizzy or have a headache if he has consumed a large amount of alcohol.

Sleep: Alcohol hinders REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is the most important phase of sleep, so drinking alcohol may destroy the chance of a proper rest.

Ears: After drinking alcohol, the person may realize that it is difficult to hear sounds or their source. That means he cannot react properly to what is happening around him. This is one of the reasons so many accidents happen involving pedestrians who have consumed alcohol.

Pregnancy and fertility

Women

If women drink alcohol more than once or twice a week, or more than 1-2 units of alcohol each time, they may affect their menstrual cycle and fertility levels.

According to research, the consumption of alcohol while trying to conceive may affect a woman’s chances of getting pregnant and increase the risk of miscarriage.

A woman does not know that she is pregnant during the first weeks of pregnancy. By not dinking while trying to conceive, the fetus will not be exposed to alcohol and its potential harm during the critical early development of the fetus.

Men

Drinking alcohol can affect their sexual performance because those who drink do not have full control of their body. Alcohol lowers the sperm count and the large consumption of alcohol can cause temporary impotence.

Alcohol affects our judgement too, so couples may have unsafe sex, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or a long term commitment they have not planned!

The consumption of large amounts of alcohol may lower testosterone levels in men and reduce the quality and quantity of the sperm. Therefore, it is recommended that men should limit their drinking to one or two drinks a day if a couple is trying to
conceive.