Consuming or not consuming alcoholic beverages has always been a controversial issue. Its opponents mention the side effects of alcohol consumption as a scientific support for their opinion; However, supporters of alcoholic beverages claim the benefits of alcohol for the body and place it as the opposite of the harms of this substance. In the continuation of this article, we will examine the effect of alcohol on health and we will point out its possible harms and benefits for the human body. Definition of standard alcoholic beverage The volume of an alcoholic beverage is not a good measure to know the amount of alcohol in it. To check the effects of alcohol on the body, the “standard drink” unit is used. The following can be considered a standard beverage unit: a large 12-ounce can of 5% alcohol beer; Half a glass (5 oz) of 12% alcohol wine; 1.5 oz of alcoholic beverages containing 40% alcohol such as whiskey, vodka or tequila. Each ounce is about 30 cc (milliliters); Therefore, 360 cc of beer, 12% wine about 150 cc, and for drinks containing 40% alcohol about 45 cc can be considered a standard drinking unit. For most people, a standard unit is the amount of alcohol allowed to drink at one time, and for example, if someone drinks more than this amount, they will not be allowed to drive in most countries. The amount of alcohol allowed per day by the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared one standard unit of alcohol for women and two standard units for men as the limit of alcohol allowed during the day. This center emphasizes that people who do not drink alcohol should not start drinking alcohol for any reason; Because alcohol has a bad effect on all the organs of the body. This center also does not distinguish between wine and beer and other alcoholic beverages and does not recommend consuming more than the permitted limit of these beverages. Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person consumes more alcohol than the body can process. In this case, there is a possibility of damage to the cerebellum, brain, liver and kidney. It should be noted that, here, alcohol poisoning means poisoning with oral alcohol and not methanol. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include mental confusion, difficulty maintaining consciousness, vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, impaired nerve responses such as: lack of gag reflex (which prevents suffocation) and very low body temperature. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Effects of alcohol on different body organs The effect of alcohol on the body can be very different from person to person. Age, gender, race, body weight, physical health status, and medication use are factors that determine how much alcohol can cause symptoms in different people. However, among the most prominent effects of alcohol on the body, the following can be mentioned: The effect of alcohol consumption on the brain The brain is usually the first organ that will show the effect of alcohol on the body. The feeling of euphoria and relaxation are the first things that happen after consuming half of a drink. With more alcohol consumption, a person’s control over speech, balance, movement and behavior decreases. With the increase of alcohol to twice the permissible limit in the blood, most people find it difficult to stand and walk and may experience dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Vomiting while drunk is associated with the risk of stomach contents entering the bronchi. Among the other harms of alcohol, if you drink a lot of it, you can mention the loss of consciousness and problems in breathing (due to the effect on the breathing center in the brain). If the amount of alcohol in the blood reaches more than four times the legal limit, a person may go into a coma and stop breathing. For most people, reaching five times the legal blood alcohol limit can cause death. The effect of alcohol on body weight may be said to be the most important side effects of alcohol consumption are weight gain and metabolic disorders. Alcohol is the second most caloric substance after fat, with 7 calories per gram. In addition, the calories of alcoholic beverages are usually increased due to the increase in sugar and flavorings. However, research on the relationship between alcohol and body weight does not agree on a single conclusion. Although almost all researches have associated heavy drinking with weight gain and obesity; However, some studies have concluded that perhaps drinking little or moderate alcohol can help control weight gain and even weight loss. The effect of alcohol consumption on heart health Drinking large amounts of alcohol at one time or in the long term causes heart problems such as cardiomyopathy (failure and weakening of the heart muscles), arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat), heart attack and high blood pressure. However, the results of all studies in this field are not the same, and some of them have associated light and moderate alcohol consumption with reducing the risk of heart diseases, and they state this issue as one of the benefits of alcohol for the body. Of course, many health experts believe that people do not have the ability to maintain their alcohol consumption at a low or moderate level and usually overdo it. As a result, it is not possible for them to benefit from the benefits of alcohol consumption and they will only experience the effects of alcohol. The effect of alcohol consumption on the liver Your liver is one of the vital organs of the body, which is responsible for hundreds of important functions. But the main role of the liver in the body is to neutralize the various toxic substances that you consume. Therefore, your liver can be highly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol imposes a heavy burden on the liver; Because, after entering the blood, alcohol must be cleared by the liver. The more alcohol you drink, the more damage it may cause to the liver. Among these damages and harms of alcohol for the liver, we can mention fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis (jaundice), changes in liver tissue in the form of fibrosis and liver cirrhosis (death of liver cells and shrinking of the liver). If you drink a lot of alcoholic beverages, the liver may become inflamed, and in the worst case, liver cells die and are replaced by scarred tissue, which will lead to a serious condition called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is an irreversible condition that will lead to very dangerous health problems, and in its advanced form, liver transplantation will be the only solution. Due to the higher consumption of alcohol in men, one of the complications of alcohol consumption in men is alcoholic hepatitis, which is very common among long-term alcohol users. Effects of alcohol consumption on the pancreas Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can cause inflammation and swelling of the pancreas (Pancreatitis). Inflammation and swelling of the pancreas can lead to malnutrition, diarrhea and abnormal weight loss, and in severe cases can even lead to death. Weakening of the immune system Long-term drinking of alcohol weakens the immune system and increases the risk of various diseases and cancer. Alcoholic people have a very high chance of contracting diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis due to the weakening of the immune system. Drinking large amounts of alcohol at one time weakens the immune system for up to 24 hours, which can increase the risk of colds and other infections. Effects of alcohol on mental state and depression Depression and alcohol consumption are very related to each other; Sometimes alcohol consumption leads to depression and sometimes depression causes people to drink alcohol. However, suffering from depression due to abuse of alcoholic beverages is more common. While drinking alcohol may make a person feel good for a few hours; But, overall, it damages mental health and can aggravate mental problems. Increasing the risk of cancer Extensive and numerous scientific studies have proven that there is a link between drinking alcohol and cancer. Drinking a lot of alcohol can increase the chances of developing cancers such as esophageal cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, head and neck cancer, and colon cancer. Among the side effects of alcohol consumption in men is the increase in these cancers. The benefits of alcohol for the body despite the side effects of alcohol consumption, can it be said that alcohol is beneficial for the body? The answer to this question is yes. If the consumption of alcohol is low or moderate, it may be beneficial for the body. Among the benefits of alcohol consumption, we can mention reducing the risk of heart diseases, reducing the risk of obstructive stroke, and perhaps reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. But these benefits of alcohol for the body can be true if used in small or medium amounts and for healthy people. Experience has proven that people drink too much alcohol at least once in a while, and few can maintain their alcohol consumption at a low or moderate level. Therefore, the benefits of alcohol for the body cannot be a good excuse to drink it; Because it is more harmful than it is useful for you, and if you want to consume alcoholic beverages, you should look for an excuse other than improving your health! Cancers that are the result of drinking alcohol, as we said, one of the most important side effects of alcohol consumption is the increase in the number of cancers. Scientific research has shown that the more alcohol a person drinks, especially if they drink regularly over a period of time, the higher their risk of certain cancers. The most important of these cancers are as follows: Head and Neck Cancer. Drinking alcohol is one of the known factors in increasing the risk of head and neck cancer. The risk of infection is higher especially for cancers inside the oral cavity (except lips), throat and pharynx and larynx. Esophageal Cancer Drinking alcohol is one of the main factors that increase the risk of developing a type of esophageal cancer called Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma. People who have a genetic defect and their body lacks a specific enzyme for alcohol metabolism are at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer. Liver Cancer Drinking alcohol is not only an independent factor in increasing the risk of liver cancer, but it is also a primary cause of hepatocellular carcinoma. Two other main causes of this cancer are chronic infection with hepatitis B and C viruses. Breast cancer (Breast Cancer). So far, more than a hundred epidemiological studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between drinking alcohol and developing breast cancer in women. All of these studies, without exception, have shown that there is a relationship between increased daily alcohol consumption and increased risk of breast cancer in women. An extensive review of 53 of these studies found that women who drank more than 45 grams of alcohol per night (equivalent to three standard units of alcohol and three times the daily limit for women) compared to women who did not drink alcohol, 5 They are 1 times more at risk of developing breast cancer. Colon cancer (Colorectal Cancer). Drinking alcohol increases the risk of colon and rectal cancers. An extensive review of the results of 57 different studies showed that people who drink more than 50 grams of alcohol or more in one night (this amount is equivalent to 3.5 standard units of alcohol) are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than non-alcoholic people. to colorectal cancers. According to the above, it can be said that there is a definite relationship between daily and excessive alcohol consumption and some cancers. Based on this, it is better that all people reconsider the amount and how they consume alcohol. To avoid the side effects of alcohol consumption, the best way is to consume alcoholic beverages on special occasions and limit the consumption of this substance in general. On the other hand, it should be noted that, according to the recommendation of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no difference between the alcohol contained in wine and beer and other alcoholic beverages, and excessive consumption of these beverages can also cause all the complications mentioned in The effect of drinking alcohol. Although some benefits of alcohol consumption in case of low or moderate use have been proven through studies; However, the harms of alcohol for the body are more than its benefits, and also many people cannot keep their drinking at a moderate level and will overindulge in the use of alcoholic beverages. Excessive consumption of alcohol will weaken the body’s immune system, and studies show that its abuse endangers the health of the brain, heart, liver, and other organs. Resources cdc.gov niaaa.nih.gov americanaddictioncenters.org https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21343207 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17825708 https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11070527 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15582912/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22701432 https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19586139 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19426164 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21790610 https:/ /www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12587005 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19550430 Frequently asked questions about the harms and benefits of alcohol consumption for the body What are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning? Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include mental confusion, difficulty maintaining consciousness, vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, impaired nerve responses such as: lack of gag reflex (which prevents suffocation) and very low body temperature. What are the effects of alcohol? Alcohol has a wide effect on the whole body and can lead to various disorders in the organs and various cancers. What is the daily limit of alcohol consumption? The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced one standard unit of alcohol for women and two standard units for men as the limit of alcohol during the day.
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