For young to middle aged adults the moderate use of alcohol increases the risk of the most common causes of death (such as trauma and breast cancer.) Men under the age of 45 may also experience more harm than benefit from alcohol consumption. As mentioned in my previous blog,
recommendations about the use of alcohol represent a difficult paradox for physicians. There is no question alcohol has benefits and can help prevent important medical problems.
This blog is about the downsides of alcohol. How can alcohol be the enemy and put you at risk for some serious medical problems? This will not include the obvious contributions of alcohol to violence, suicide, accidents, and trauma. So here we go.
1. Head and neck cancer (oral cavity, larynx, and throat) risk rises linearly with alcohol consumption so the more you drink the higher your risk. The bummer here is that the risk of head and neck cancer is increased up to 10 years of quitting drinking.
2. The gut. Gastrointestinal cancer is linked to alcohol consumption, even at low levels of intake.
3. The risk of esophageal cancer (squamous cell) is increased with alcohol use. The risk is higher with heavier alcohol use as with head and neck cancers.
4. Liver cancer (hepatocellular cancer) is increased with heavy drinking. One large study showed risk was significantly increased in women consuming more than 14 drinks weekly.
5. Cirrhosis of the liver is a well-known risk of alcohol. The belief is that men need to consume at least 5 drinks daily to cause cirrhosis but I’m not so sure about that.
6. Breast cancer risk rises with alcohol intake above 3-6 drinks per week. Studies have shown that for women who drink alcohol taking supplemental folate may decrease the risk of breast cancer.
7. Osteoporosis. Heavy alcohol use predisposes to hip fracture by causing both osteoporosis and falls. A double whammy.
8. Fetal alcohol syndrome may occur with moderate to heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Low birth weight is also associated with alcohol use during pregnancy.
9. Atrial fibrillation is a known downside to heavy alcohol use and binge drinking. Interestingly, mild to moderate use does not increase your risk of atrial fib.
10. Pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas, may result from heavy alcohol use. Chronic pancreatitis is also associated with alcohol use.
RELATED FROM AROUND THE WEB