Alcohol Abuse, Alcohol Absorption, Health Effects, Drinking Limits, Alcohol Metabolism, Alcohol Dependency Symptoms, Side Effects and Benefits of Drinking Alcohol and FAQ
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol (Ethanol) is a type of drug. It is a small, water-soluble molecule that absorbs more rapidly into the small intestine and is absorbed comparatively slowly in the stomach and distributed freely throughout the body.
Alcoholic drinks are a major source of energy. For example, six-pin beer contains about 500 kilocalories (kcal) and half a liter of whisky contains 1650 kilocalories.
Health Effects of Alcohol
Daily energy requirement for a moderately active man is 3000 kcal and 2200 kcal for a woman.
The following article lets you know about some important facts related to Alcohol and its abuse and health effects.
How does alcohol absorb in the body?
The rate of alcohol absorption depends on several factors. For example –
- When alcohol is consumed on an empty stomach and alcohol density is 20-30%, the rate of absorption is the fastest. Therefore, sherry having a concentration of about 20% alcohol increases blood alcohol levels more rapidly (3-8%) than beer, while spirit (40%) delays the emptiness of gastric and prevents absorption.
- Drinks repeated by carbon dioxide – for example, whisky and soda, and champagne – quickly get into the system.
- Food and carbohydrates in particular reduce absorption: Blood concentrations obtained on empty stomachs may not go up to a quarter. The pleasant effects of alcohol are best achieved by diet or when drinking alcohol, in the case of spirit.
Alcohol is distributed throughout the body, so that most of the tissue – such as heart, brain and muscle – is exposed to alcohol of the same density as blood. The exception is the liver, where exposure is high because blood is directly obtained from the stomach and small intestine through portal veins. Alcohol diffuses slowly, except for organs with rich blood supply like the brain and lungs.
Very little alcohol enters fat due to its poor solubility. Blood tissue concentrations are therefore higher in women who have more subcutaneous fat and a smaller blood volume, than in men, even when the consumed alcohol is adjusted according to the body weight. Women may also have lower alcohol dehydrogenases in the stomach than men. So that less amount of alcohol is metabolized before absorption. Alcohol enters the fetus readily through the placenta and is eliminated by maternal metabolism.
Blood alcohol concentration varies depending on sex, body size and structure, menstrual phase (it is the highest before menstruation and during ovulation), exposure to alcohol, type of drink, alcohol intake with food or medicine (such as symetidine (which prevents gastric alcohol dehydrogenase) and antihistamine, phenothiazine, and metoclomede.
Also Read: 16 Natural Ways to Increase Your Metabolism
The liver eliminates more than 90% of alcohol from the body. 2-5% is excreted unchanged in urine, sweat or breathing. The first step in metabolism is the generation of alcohol dehydrogenase, of which at least four isoenzymes exist to acetaldehyde in the presence of cofactors. Acetaldehyde is an overreacting and toxic substance, and is fast-secreted to harmless acetate with aldehyde dehydrogenase in healthy people.
Several isoenzymes of aldehyde dehydrogenase exist, of which about 50% are not found in Japanese people and possibly others in South Asians (but very little in white population). Unpleasant symptoms of headaches, nausea, flushing, and taricaridia are felt by people who lack aldehyde dehydration and drink; this is believed to have happened due to accumulation of acetaldehyde. In normal circumstances, acetate and peripheral tissues in the liver are oxidized to carbon dioxide and water.
On an empty stomach, the blood has the highest concentration of alcohol about an hour after consumption, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed; it then decreases more or less linearly for the next four hours. Alcohol is removed from the blood at a rate of about 3.3 mm/h (15 mg/100ml/h), but changes with different people, during different drinks, and with the amount of alcohol.
4.4 mol (20 mg/100ml) blood alcohol density, the curve is flat, but healthy people have a detectable density for several hours after three pints of beer or three double whiskeys; Enough alcohol can be present after the evening session of morning drinking to damage normal activity. Drinking alcohol by over-drinkers represents a considerable metabolic burden – for example, half a bottle of whisky is equivalent to 500 g of aspirin or 1.2kg of tetracycline in terms of molasses.
Symptoms of Alcohol Dependency
Symptoms of alcohol dependence can be different from person to person. Some usually seen symptoms are –
- Drinking more over time
- Having difficulty stopping after one drink
- Inability to stop drinking if you try
- Continue drinking alcohol even if your health or daily life is negatively affected
- Spending a lot of time on alcohol-related activities.
Health Effects of Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can have a serious impact on your health. These are mentioned below:
- On Brain
Alcohol hinders the way the brain communicates, and can affect the appearance and way the brain works. These disruptions can change attitudes and behaviors, and make it difficult to think clearly and move forward with coordination.
- On Heart
Drinking too much alcohol for a long time or at all can cause heart damage, which can lead to such problems-
- Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and loosening of heart muscles
- Arrhythmia – Irregular heartbeat
- High Blood Pressure/Hypotension
Unlimited drinking can damage your liver. This can lead to liver inflammation and other problems:
- Steatosis, or fatty liver
- Alcoholic Hepatitis
Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxins that can lead to Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
There is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol can lead to various types of cancer. In its report on carcinogens, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program lists the use of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. There is a clear pattern between alcohol consumption and the increased risk of certain types of cancer-
- Head and neck cancer, including mouth cavity, feringx, and vocal cord cancer.
- Esophageal cancer, especially esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, people who inherit a lack of an alcohol-metabolized enzyme have found a significant increase in the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma when consumed alcohol.
- Liver cancer.
- Breast cancer: Studies have continuously increased the risk of breast cancer in women who have increased alcohol consumption. Women who consume about 1 drink per day are 5 to 9 percent more likely to have breast cancer than women who are not drinking at all.
- Colorectal cancer.
- Immune System
Excessive drinking can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for diseases. Chronic drinkers are more at risk for developing diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who are not over drunk. Drinking a lot at a time reduces your body’s ability to prevent infection – even up to 24 hours after drinking.
Also Read: Immune System of Human Body
Long term effects of drinking too much Alcohol
Some of the long-term effects of drinking alcohol too frequently include –
- Constant changes in attitude, including anxiety and itching
- Insomnia and other sleep concerns
- A weak immune system, meaning you may get sick more often
- Changes in libido and sexual function
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Memory and concentration problems
- Difficulty focusing on work
- Growing tensions and conflicts in romantic and family relations
Is there any benefit to drinking?
Drinking moderate or mild alcohol can provide some health benefits, such as-
- Reduces the risk of dying of heart disease
- May lower your risk of ischemic stroke (when your brain arteries narrow or block, which severely reduces blood flow).
- Probably reduces your risk of diabetes.
However, the health benefits of eating a healthy diet and being physically active are more preferable and suggested.
Remember that even the moderate consumption of alcohol is not risk-free. For example, people who drink very little (who do not have more than one drink a day) have a small, but realistic, increased risk of certain cancers, such as esophageal cancer.
The article describes alcohol consumption and its health effects. The information provided is only for knowledge/educational purposes and not intended to replace any medical treatment or expert’s advice. Remember, Depression can be deadly sometimes, thus consider professional help whenever you feel any symptoms of it. For proper diagnosis, please consult a specialist or your doctor.
Also Read: Alcohol Health Effects (Assamese)
1) Why do some people react differently to alcohol than others?
A. Alcohol affects every part of the body. It is a central nervous system exhaustion that absorbs rapidly from the stomach and small intestines to the flow of blood. Alcohol is metabolized by enzymes in the liver. However, the liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol simultaneously, causing excess alcohol to spread throughout the body. The intensity of alcohol’s effect on the body is directly related to the amount consumed.
2) What is Binge drinking?
A. Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol concentration (BH) levels to 0.08% or higher. This pattern of drinking is usually compatible with 5 or more drinks at a time for men or 4 or more drinks at a time for women, usually within about 2 hours.
3) Is beer or wine safer than drinking alcohol?
A. No, a 12-ounce beer contains a 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5-ounce shot alcohol equivalent to alcohol. This is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person the most, not the type of alcohol.
4) What does moderate drinking mean?
A. The legal drinking policy allows drinking to be done, or drinking in moderation, by restricting the consumption of drinks to a certain extent. Drinking less than drinking more is good for health.
5) Is it okay to drink when pregnant?
A. No, there is no known safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. Women who plan to get pregnant or are pregnant should refrain from drinking alcohol. Several conditions including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder during pregnancy have been linked to alcohol use. Women of childbearing age should also avoid fast drinking to reduce the risk of involuntary pregnancy and potential exposure to developing fetal alcohol.