High alcohol intake leads to a series of chronic diseases and medical conditions. The severity of these negative health effects is dependent on the volume of alcohol ingested, drinking patterns, and the strength of the beverage.

This substance displays a critical role in the formation of certain tumors, cancers, mental illnesses, heart and stomach related diseases.

In 2004, around 35 million deaths and 603 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) were caused by chronic illnesses. From these figures, approximately 3.4% of the deaths and 2.4% of DALYs are rooted in alcoholism.

Here are the medical conditions associated with alcohol abuse.

How Alcohol Affects The Mouth And The Throat

People who drink more than 50 grams of alcohol or four drinks per day are two to three times more prone to getting mouth and throat cancers. Likewise, the risk is increased if the person also uses tobacco. If the person stops drinking, the risk of acquiring such diseases are reduced by two percent.

There are four main types of oral cancer:

  • Mouth Cancer
  • Upper throat (Pharyngeal) cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Voice box (Laryngeal) cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer

  • Mouth sores
  • Presence of red and white lesions inside the mouth or lips
  • Swelling of the hard and soft palate
  • Numbness of the tongue
  • The difficulty of opening the mouth
  • Loose teeth

Signs and Symptoms of Upper Throat Cancer

  • Severe cough
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Ear pains without any hearing defects
  • Sore throat
  • Rapid weight loss

Signs and Symptoms of Esophageal or Esophagus Cancer

  • Dysphagia or having trouble swallowing
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation and indigestion
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness of voice

Signs and Symptoms of Voice box

(Laryngeal) Cancer

  • Hoarseness of the voice
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Severe cough
  • Extreme sore throat
  • Ear pains without hearing defects
  • Unexplained weight loss

How Alcohol Affects The Stomach

Alcohol intake must be moderated particularly if one hasn’t eaten yet. Excess alcohol contents in the stomach increase acidity levels which can be detrimental to the inner linings of the stomach. Some of the illnesses associated with too much alcohol in the stomach include ulcer, heartburn, and gastritis.

Ulcer

  • Ulcer or gastric ulcers happen when the inner linings of the stomach are irritated by too much acid content. There’s a thinning of the protective layer inside the stomach.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pains
  • Vomiting
  • Bloated feeling
  • Dark-colored stools

Heartburn or Reflux

  • It is the burning sensation one feels in the esophagus when the acid in the stomach reaches up to that level. The inner lining of the esophagus is thinner and more sensitive, thus, experiencing the burning sensation.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Burning sensation in the chest and throat
  • Chest pain
  • Acidic or sour tasting fluid at the back of the throat
  • Hard time swallowing
  • Feels like food is stuck inside the throat

Gastritis

  • An inflammation of the inner linings of the stomach. There are two kinds based on severity and duration: acute gastritis and chronic gastritis. If acute gastritis is left untreated, it becomes chronic gastritis.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Feeling of indigestion
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

How Alcohol Affects The Brain

Alcohol both have short-term and long-term effects on the brain. Short-term effects can easily be observed after a few shots while long-term effects can have multiple side-effects to other parts of the body.

Short-term effects

  • Feeling of lightheadedness
  • Bleary vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Difficulty in balance
  • Blackouts
  • Memory Lapses

Long-term effects

  • Mental confusion
  • Paralysis of nerves which affects eye movement
  • Decreased muscle coordination
  • Gradual memory loss

How Alcohol Affects the Heart

Excessive and continuous drinking of alcohol can have a detrimental impact on one’s heart. In fact, here are some of its most common effects.

  • Increased blood pressure which may lead to stroke
  • In the long run, heavy drinking weakens the heart because of continuous fast pumping of blood which eventually leads to heart failure.
  • Binge drinking can lead to irregular heartbeat or

    Arrhythmias


  • Enlargement of the heart or

    Cardiomyopathy


How Alcohol Affects The Liver

The liver is responsible for processing the alcohol so it can be used and flushed out from the body. However, it has limitations and excessive alcohol levels in the liver can cause alcohol-related liver diseases (ARLD). ARLD has three levels of varying severity starting with fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis as the worst stage.

Common Signs and Symptoms

  • Jaundice
  • Swelling ankles
  • Drowsiness
  • Change of appetite
  • Presence of blood spots in stools

Alcoholic Fatty Liver

  • This happens when there’s a fat build-up inside the liver due to excess alcohol content. It is still reversible as long as you stop drinking alcohol.
  • Estimated 90 to 100 percent of alcoholics are diagnosed with fatty liver.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

  • This is usually caused by binge drinking or drinking too much alcohol in a short span of time.
  • About 10 to 15 percent of patients with alcoholic hepatitis led to liver failure.

Alcohol Liver Cirrhosis

  • This happens when the liver form scars due to excess alcohol levels which later leads to liver failure. This stage is actually irreversible compared to the first two stages.
  • Approximately 88,000 individuals (70% male and 30% female) died from alcohol-related diseases each year.
  • Moreover, 20 to 25 percent of patients with liver cirrhosis are attributed to heavy alcohol drinking.

How Alcohol Affects the Pancreas

Extreme alcohol drinking can cause both acute and chronic pancreatitis. This disease involves the inflammation of the pancreas which may be mild to severe pain. In the United States, approximately 33 percent of acute pancreatitis is attributed to alcohol abuse. Likewise, in most developed countries, 60 to 90 percent of chronic pancreatitis is attributed to alcoholism.

How Alcohol Contributes To Breast Cancer

Alcohol has been recognized as a potential carcinogen. Likewise, it’s estimated to contribute to around 15 percent of breast cancer incidence in the United States.

  • Women who drink around 45 grams of alcohol daily poses 1.5 times risk for acquiring breast cancer
  • Every 10 grams of alcohol intake poses a 12 percent chance of getting breast cancer

How Alcohol Contributes To Colon And Rectal Cancer

Colon and rectal cancer happen when there is an abnormal growth of muscle tissues inside your colon and rectum.

Alcohol's impact on

cancer development

  • Alcohol intake of 50 g and more poses 1.5 times chances of getting this cancer
  • Every 10 g of alcohol content gives a 7% chance of getting this cancer

Signs and

Symptoms

  • Blood spots in rectum and stool
  • Change in bowel movements
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Urge to have a bowel movement even if it's empty

How Alcohol Contributes To Other Diseases

The normal process of the immune system is disrupted whenever there’s too much alcohol level in the body. Alcoholism is attributed to some immune diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and HIV.

  • Almost 16% diagnosed with tuberculosis are alcoholics
  • Higher risk for HIV
  • Other infections such as blood poisoning, accumulation of chest pus, inflammation of connective tissues, and diphtheria or formation of thick covering at the back of your throat

What Are The Factors Modifying Alcohol Elimination In The Body

There are several physiological and environmental factors affecting how fast alcohol can be flushed out of the body. Here are some of the major factors affecting how fast it can be eliminated.

  • Sex

o Women have a faster mechanism in flushing out alcohol due to their smaller body

  • Age

o Very young people have lower alcohol elimination rates because their ADH enzymes are not yet fully functional

  • Race

o Most Native Americans have higher alcohol elimination rates than Caucasians.

o Chinese people have similar elimination rates with Caucasians

o In medical terms, races with beta3 class I ADH isoforms have higher alcohol elimination capacities.

  • Food

o Food increases blood flow inside the liver

o Fructose increases the digestion of alcohol

  • Biological Rhythms

o The speed of eliminating alcohol varies within the time of the day, wherein optimal flush out happens during night time.

o It’s also related to the body temperature cycle.

  • Exercise

o Some studies show slower alcohol elimination rate due to an increase in body temperature

  • Alcoholism

o The more you intake alcohol, the slower is its metabolism inside the body.

  • Drugs

o Substances which compete with the alcohol for ADH leads to a slower elimination process

o Samples of these substances include pyrazoles, isobutyramide, and disulfiram