More than a quarter of all adults drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol – 14 units a week for women and 21 for men, according to the latest data from the British Information Centre of Health. One unit equals 25 milliliters of whiskey, a third of a pint of beer or 175 ml wine that is half a cup.
Most often men and fewer women aged 45-64 years from middle-class drink the most and are at risk of serious and irreversible effects on their bodies.
A glass of wine a day does not seem that much, but these are 2.3 units of alcohol, which can grow up to 16.1 units per week, which exceeds the safe limits for women.
From damaging the heart muscle to infertility – this is what causes alcohol to different parts of our body.
Alcohol definitely affects male performance in the bedroom, causing temporary erectile dysfunction. In the long run, it reduces testosterone levels, leading to loss of libido and is toxic to the testes that are damaging the semen.
Roughly the same effect has alcohol on women. Alcohol causes an imbalance in hormones that control fertility, even in small quantities, it can reduce the chance of conception.
A study was done in 2010 on couples trying to have a baby showed that women who drink more than six units of alcohol per week are 18 percent less likely to become pregnant, while the ability of men to produce offspring was reduced by 14 percent.
Long-term abuse of alcohol among women leads to irregular periods, lack of ovulation, and early menopause and miscarriage.
Five types of cancer
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of five types of cancer. Its main ingredient – the ethanol is processed in the liver and produces a toxic substance called acetaldehyde.
It causes DNA damage of the cells, turning them into cancerous cells. For example, the acetaldehyde in the liver leads to growing the cells more rapidly than normal. A cell that is regenerated more frequently, are more likely to have changes in its genes and that leads to cancer.
Alcohol also reacts with other chemicals which cause cancer. For example, smoking acts as a solvent, allowing the alcohol to be absorbed more quickly and damaging the cells. It increases the chances of disease in another way – by changing the levels of sex hormones in the body, including estrogen. There is a direct link between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and breast cancer.
You should know that the amount of alcohol that leads to these changes is not so great. Bottle of wine a week will increase the risk of breast cancer by 10 percent.
Alcohol is like fat – it brings the same amount of calories as butter. For example, a liter of vodka has the same calories as a liter of whipped cream.
The alcohol is metabolized in the same way as the cream and goes to the liver cells. So everyone who drinks regularly ends with fatty liver. A majority of people develop cirrhosis when the liver is irreversibly damaged.
Overweight also leads to cirrhosis, but the damage to the liver due to alcohol abuse takes a much shorter period of time. For obesity, it takes 40-50 years to ruin the liver, while most alcoholics at the age of 40 already have cirrhosis.
Liver disease is the second biggest killer among women and third for men. 80 percent of those deaths are alcohol-related.
Drinkers suffer more often from chest infections and pneumonia because alcohol weakens the immune system.
Men who drank more than 50 drinks per week is 80 percent more likely to be taken to hospital with pneumonia than those limited to 6 drinks per week.
Alcohol makes us old and we all know that. It has a diuretic effect, which causes the body and our skin to dehydrate very easily.
Dehydration makes the skin dry. Excessive alcohol consumption affects the levels of iron in the blood. This makes us pale with lifeless skin and a puffy face and leads to hair loss.
Alcohol destroys vitamins C and A. As a result of this, the body produces less collagen and the skin becomes less resistant to the main causes of aging like sun and pollution.
Alcoholics often can have skin rashes because of the lack of B vitamins, which can resemble eczema. Alcohol also dilates blood vessels, resulting in redness of parts of the face, as well as the dark circles under the eyes.
After a few drinks seem that the shyness and sadness disappear and we become happier and more confident. But few of us realize that if you fall into that state regularly, it can actually harm the brain.
Regular use of alcohol is associated with depression, anxiety, as well as a variety of other mental health problems. Almost a third of suicides are due to the influence of alcohol.
It affects every system of the body and can change irreversible the brain. Moreover, the consumption of alcohol separates the hormone dopamine, known as the hormone of happiness. However, it is associated with addiction, the result of which is alcoholism.
High blood pressure and heart problems
Alcohol is a toxin that directly affects the heart muscle cells. When you drink, it kills some of these cells. As a result is developed cardiomyopathy, when the heart is weak and thin and is unable to transfer the blood through the body. This limits the oxygen for the tissues.
This leads to shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and swelling of legs and feet, and in severe cases can lead to heart failure.
The heart has an amazing ability to recover, but if you drink regularly, it will be irreparably damaged. This happens when men take more than 21 units of alcohol a week and women – more than 14 units a week.
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of high blood pressure and it is of the major risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Alcohol also affects sleep, which further can increase the blood pressure.
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis doubles the risk of kidney disease. Toxins and waste products from the blood are filtered by the kidneys, but the alcohol reduces their ability to filter. It dehydrates the body. This can worsen the work of all organs in the body.
Alcohol damages bones and leads to a condition known as medical osteoporosis. This means that people are more likely to break bones and the fractures are healing more slowly.