While a glass of wine here and there won’t kill you, the risk of life-threatening health problems, such as several types of cancer, strokes, infectious diseases, self-harm, and traffic accidents, is more common among those who drink alcohol.
The new Study, which involved hundreds of researchers from different institutions, analyzed data from more than 1,000 alcohol studies, followed by data sources and deaths and disability cases from 195 countries between 1990 and 2016.
This research, published in Lancet, confirmed that drinking alcohol regardless of the amount leads to poorer health. While a glass of wine here and there won’t kill you, the risk of life-threatening health problems, such as several types of cancers, strokes, infectious diseases, self-harm, and traffic accidents, is more common among those who drink alcohol.
Specifically, drinking wine and beer is a major risk factor for disability and early death for people between the ages of 15 and 49 in 2016, leading to 2.8 million deaths globally. That means it’s best to avoid that one glass of wine, too.
We bring to you 10 diseases that people who drink alcohol are more susceptible to.
“Of course, alcohol will initially make you feel good. However, as your body breaks down chemicals contained in alcohol, the balance of neurotransmitters that stabilize the mood of the brain can be disrupted,” says Ray Lebeda, a medicine specialist at the Health Association in Orlando.
In the short term, this can get you in a great mood, but over time it actually causes your brain cells to shrink, which can cause problems like depression.
Memory loss and dementia
Neurotransmitters don’t just fight your mood. They can lead to short-term memory loss (blackout due to too much alcohol) and long-term cognitive problems, including dementia, experts warn.
One French study, which involved more than a million adults, found that among 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia, nearly 60 percent were associated with chronic alcohol consumption.
One of the easiest ways to maintain weight is to avoid alcohol. Research shows that alcohol intake can be a risk factor for obesity, especially when you consume it regularly.
Why? For most of us, alcohol is just a source of extra calories. Experts know that when we drink, we usually do not eat less. Plus, even a few drinks can encourage you to eat more than you would if you were sober.
Fatty liver disease
The liver’s job is to metabolize nutrients from what we eat and drink. However, if too much drink loads the liver, fat builds up.
“Excess fat is deposited by liver cells, where it accumulates in the form of fatty liver disease,” explains Dr. Duheyni. All these extra fats can increase the risk of inflammatory conditions such as alcoholic hepatitis. It can also lead to cirrhosis when the liver is unable to do its job and actually begins to fail.
Alcohol creates a risk for certain types of cancer, including breast, liver, mouth and throat cancers. In fact, when researchers tracked drinking habits and cancer risk in more than one million women, they found that up to 13% of cancer cases were related to alcohol consumption.
What’s the connection? When alcohol breaks down in the body, it turns into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde can damage DNA and proteins in the body, causing damage to your cells, explains Dr. Lebeda. Alcohol also creates free radicals that cause cell oxidation. This can sometimes cause healthy cells to grow uncontrollably and become cancerous, says Dr. Lebeda.
High blood pressure
Alcohol intake signals the release of a stress hormone that causes blood vessels to tighten and temporarily create high blood pressure.
Over time, this narrowing makes your blood vessels stronger and less elastic, which can cause high blood pressure in the long run.
Over time, drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause your heart muscles to weaken. This condition, called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.
This can lead to fatigue, difficulty breathing, swelling in the legs and feet and irregular heartbeat. It can also cause organ damage and heart failure.
A body condition marked by severe inflammation can lead to diabetes and pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancers.
Excessive alcohol consumption is not the only culprit, but it will create a greater risk. This is because the drink interferes with the normal function of the pancreas, causing the organ to secrete digestive enzymes from the inside instead of sending them to the small intestine.
By drinking, you can’t get HIV, of course. But, remember, it can suppress your immune system and make you more prone to infections. So, if you engage in risky behavior, such as unprotected sex with multiple partners, or intravenous drug use, a severe decrease in immunity may create a higher risk of infection.
Even if your heart is healthy, you will significantly increase your likelihood of stroke if you drink a lot. Specifically, one study found that men who drink more than six drinks a day and women who drink more than four are at almost 40 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who never drink.
Experts are not entirely sure why alcoholism creates a risk of stroke, but it is probably related to high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke.
Pneumonia and tuberculosis
Alcohol suppresses your immune system by interfering with your body’s ability to make white blood cells that fight infections. In the short term, this can weaken your immunity. In the long run, it can bring your immune system to the point where it becomes more susceptible to serious infectious diseases, explains Dr. Duheyni.
This can include pneumonia and even tuberculosis, a potentially dangerous bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs.