What alcohol does to brain and body

We’re not suggesting you shouldn’t drink alcohol, but research shows that every drink changes you. Here’s how.

There are generally two camps for drinkers.

There’s the ‘Alcohol is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy’ camp. Then there’s the ‘Alcohol is the perfect solvent. It dissolves marriages, families and careers’ camp.

You can argue for either camp as much as you want. The indisputable facts are that alcohol, be it an expensive wine or a glass of beer, changes your body, changes your personality, changes your decision-making abilities and can affect your health.

For example, it’s a fact that within seconds of your first drink, alcohol enters your brain. For most people, it slows your reflexes, affects your memory and alters your demeanour.

If you’re a heavy drinker, alcohol can actually shrink your brain, and that can have a profound effect on a wide range of body functions.

You might argue that some effects are good. You might feel more relaxed, more confident and less inhibited. You might also become loud and aggressive or you might go the other way and become dozy and dull.

Either way, you will change, and you must recognise that one drink will make you change, and every drink after that will make you change more. 

The World Health Organisation’s Global Burden of Disease report estimates that alcohol-attributable violence accounts for 248,000 deaths annually worldwide, and American research shows that about 40 per cent of inmates convicted of violent offences were under the influence of alcohol when they committed the crime.

Some people believe that drinking helps them sleep, but research presented by WebMD says this is largely a fallacy. You might drop off quickly, but it won’t be the sound, deep sleep that the body needs because your body is working hard to process the alcohol. This is likely to cause you to toss and turn, and perhaps even get up a few times to go to the toilet.

And maybe not just to urinate. Alcohol lines your stomach and can cause nausea and vomiting. It can unbalance your bowels, leave you dehydrated and damage your liver and kidneys.

But that’s not the worst of it.

Some organs struggle to process alcohol, such as the pancreas, which can become inflamed and unable to make insulin, leading to diabetes. Drinking also increases your chances of developing pancreatic cancer.

And we are yet to mention the likelihood of weaker bones, hearing loss, irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure.

Alcohol-related problems have been recognised for decades as being among the world’s major health concerns.

So don’t think you’re immune just because you believe that “I can hold my booze” or because you’re an experienced drinker and your body is used to it. Every drink has an impact, and that’s irrefutable.

Do you enjoy a daily glass of something alcoholic? Are you concerned about the possible health consequences?

Related articles:
Alcohol taking a toll on Aussies
Alcohol linked to cancer risk
Could alcohol be banned at airports?

Written by Janelle Ward

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Alcohol consumption linked to cancer death risk

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