Alcohol can be soothing for many reasons. Hence, people started binge drinking during the pandemic to relieve stress. According to data from a national survey of U.S. adults, binge drinking increased by 21% during the pandemic.
A survey published on the NCBI website shows that this increased binge drinking was more common in people having Covid-19-related stress. Although people use alcohol as a way to get away from stress, alcohol has always been hazardous.
This is exactly why the Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has revised its Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. The previous guidelines allowed 10 drinks per week for women and 15 for men. However, according to the new guidelines, the CCSA advises Canadians to consume only two drinks per week.
The advice comes after the outcomes of a recent study conducted to analyze the impact of alcoholism on the human body. Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health: Final Report states that alcohol is associated with many health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, liver disease, violence and more. Here is what long-term alcohol abuse can do to your body.
It Damages Your Liver
Being the primary organ for breaking down alcohol in your body, the liver is at the most risk of damage due to binge alcohol drinking. The liver is capable of processing the alcohol you consume. It breaks down around 90-98% of the alcohol. The remaining 2-10% is excluded through urine or sweat.
However, this requires time. But if you binge drink, the liver does not get the time to break down alcohol. This results in an increasing level of alcohol in your body. And the more you drink, the more the level rises, putting your liver at an increased risk of damage.
Due to high alcohol intake, Canada is already facing a liver disease crisis. In 2013, the Canadian Liver Foundation published a report highlighting that liver-related deaths have increased by 30% in the past eight years. Now, a study published in The Lancet Journal studies the scale of the problem and concludes that the situation has worsened over the years.
Hence, it is advised to allow your liver to rest. If you have been diagnosed with liver disease or are facing liver-related health problems, these are the signs that you must stop drinking alcohol. Reducing alcohol intake will allow the liver to rest and recover.
Once you stop drinking alcohol or reduce intake, your liver will show signs of healing. For instance, you will start getting back your appetite, having more energy, improving blood clotting, etc.
Knowing these signs will also help you ensure your liver is healing after visiting a rehabilitation center. Even if your liver is healing, you must avoid alcohol or bring it down to the recommended levels by the CCSA.
It Causes Heart Failure
You might have heard people saying that alcohol consumption can lower your risk of coronary artery disease. It has been a popular belief publicized for many years. However, new studies show that moderate alcohol drinking neither increases nor decreases your risk of ischemic heart disease.
However, long-term drinking can be a risk factor for many other types of heart conditions, including the following:
- Heart failure
- Hemorrhagic stroke
- High blood pressure, etc.
Heart failure is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. According to the British Heart Foundation’s Global Heart and Circulatory Disease Fact Sheet, 50,000 people die each day from heart or cardiovascular disease worldwide. In terms of Canada, 191 out of 100,000 Canadians died due to significant cardiovascular disease in 2020. Hence, you must take the right steps to care for your heart health.
It Accelerates Biological Aging
Long-term alcohol consumption is associated with biological aging due to its impact on telomeres. Telomeres protect against DNA by attaching it to the end of chromosomes. According to many studies, alcohol intake can shorten the lengths of telomeres, accelerating biological aging.
For instance, a study published in Nature’s Journal clarifies alcohol effects on telomere length. The study used multiple methods to find the connection. It was found that the results were consistent across all the methods, and it was concluded that alcohol could impact telomere length.
The telomere length can impact biological aging. It reduces naturally as people age by allowing cell division. When the cells replicate, many telomeres are lost, leading to shorter lengths and natural aging. Short telomeres are associated with many age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cancer and coronary artery disease.
Since telomeres are biological markers, shorter telomere length indicates quick aging. And since alcohol can result in short telomeres, it is best to avoid alcoholism if you want to stay youthful for a long time.
It Shrinks Your Brain
Binge alcohol consumption is a severe health risk that can have long-lasting effects on the body, including the brain. Studies have shown that excessive drinking can decrease the brain’s size, decreasing cognitive function and memory.
According to a study published in the Natures Journal, even a single daily drink can shrink your brain. The study found that people who consumed a pint of beer a day in the past month at 50 had brains that looked two years older than those who did not drink alcohol.
This shrunk brain can significantly impact an individual’s ability to think and make decisions and overall quality of life. Binge drinking can also increase the risk of developing neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
It Weakens Your Immune System
Binge alcohol consumption can have a detrimental effect on your immune system. When you consume alcohol in large amounts and for a prolonged period, it can weaken your body’s natural defense system, making it more difficult for your body to fight off illnesses and infections.
Data shows that moderate drinking does not impact the immune system. However, excessive drinking can weaken your immune system. Hence, it is advised to refrain from drinking too much alcohol.
The thing is that alcohol consumption impacts white blood cell production and function. When the white blood cells in your body are reduced, your body becomes more vulnerable to foreign entities like bacteria and viruses.
According to a study published in the ClinMed International Library, alcohol can also interfere with platelet production and white blood cells to impact blood clotting. All these factors can together weaken your immune system. Besides stopping alcohol intake, you can also improve your diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep to boost your immune system.
Overall, long-term alcohol abuse can have severe and detrimental effects on the body. It can damage vital organs, weaken the immune system, cause cognitive and mental health issues and even lead to death.
It is essential to be aware of the dangers of alcohol abuse and to take steps to ensure your health and safety. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional.