Having one or two glasses of wine at the end of a hectic workweek or enjoying a few beers on Sunday watching football with your friends can be a great way to unwind. However, there are many individuals who make a habit out of throwing back one too many alcoholic beverages. Drinking in moderation can provide for a way to destress but when drinking becomes more of a lifestyle it is important to look at the health risks associated with chronic drinking. Chronic drinking can do damage to many aspects of your life (personal and professional) but it can also damage your health. Here are a few health risks associated with heavy drinking.
Car crashes, boating accidents, drownings, and falls are some examples of accidents that have been linked to drinking alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 53 minutes someone dies from a motor vehicle crash that involves an alcohol-impaired driver. Alcohol disrupts fine motor skills and balance which often leads to these types of accidents. Alcohol use continues to be the leading cause of injuries treated in emergency departments.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and because of this it causes difficulty with processing information and poses challenges with solving simple problems. Excessive or binge drinking can cause blackouts and the inability to remember events. Long term heavy drinking can speed up the brain’s normal aging process, resulting in early and permanent dementia.
It is no surprise to anyone that alcohol goes hand in hand with depression. Self-harm and suicide are much more common in people with alcohol problems. Sherry Rogers, MD, advises “Alcohol is a depressant. People with depression shouldn’t drink alcohol.”
Consuming large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can contribute to the risk of developing certain types of cancers, including cancers of the mouth, larynx, liver, colon and breast. Alcohol can act as an irritant in the mouth and throat especially. According to cancer.org, cells that are damaged from alcohol use may try to repair themselves, which could lead to DNA changes in the cells that can be a step toward cancer.
Heavy drinking triggers the release of stress hormones which can constrict blood vessels which leads to high blood pressure. Excessive alcohol intake is additionally linked to cardiovascular complications including heart attacks and sudden cardiac death. Strokes are also a potential complication of binge drinking.
With all of these health issues associated with excessive alcohol use, you may want to determine how much is too much for your health. It is always important to determine if you have an addiction to alcohol or if you simply have a couple of drinks in moderation with friends. With all of the research and information, there is no doubt that too much alcohol is a liability to your health.