Some evidence suggests alcohol can exacerbate the effects of dementia, Koob said. For some cancers, such as liver and colorectal, the risk starts only when people drink excessively. But for breast and esophageal cancer, the risk increases, albeit slightly, with any alcohol consumption. Alcohol can impact various parts of the body, including the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas, as well as essential body systems like the immune and digestive systems.
Pancreatitis can activate the release of pancreatic digestive enzymes and cause abdominal pain. These effects might not last very long, but that doesn’t make them insignificant. Impulsiveness, loss of coordination, and changes in mood can affect your judgment and behavior and contribute to more far-reaching effects, including accidents, injuries, and decisions you later regret. Some of these effects, like a relaxed mood or lowered inhibitions, might show up quickly after just one drink. Others, like loss of consciousness or slurred speech, may develop after a few drinks.
Which condition poses the greatest risk?
This information is based on the assumption that you have a normal tolerance to alcohol. People ages 12 to 20 drink 3.4% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.4 Although youth drink less often than adults, when they do drink, they drink more. More than 90% of all beverages containing alcohol consumed by youth are consumed through binge drinking5 (see the “What Is Binge Drinking?” https://ecosoberhouse.com/ box). Underage drinking is a serious public health problem in the United States. Alcohol is the most widely used substance among America’s youth and can cause them enormous health and safety risks. Experts in alcohol-related diseases don’t want to stop people from having fun, but they often come down on the side of “less is better” and any alcohol at all carries some risk.
Depending on how much you have been drinking, your body may experience physical and psychological changes as you reduce your intake, known as withdrawal. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 69.5% of people in the United States reported drinking within the last year. 25.8% of people classified their recent consumption habits as binge drinking (excessive drinking in a defined amount of time). Because alcohol is a depressant, it can also contribute to mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression.
When to avoid alcohol
A typical 25-ounce (750 ml) bottle of table wine holds about 5 “standard” drinks, each containing about 5 ounces. This serving size of wine contains about the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce regular beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits. Malt beverages are not required to list their alcohol content on the labels, so you may need to visit the bottler’s Web site. Take our free, 5-minute consequences of alcohol substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.
In addition, enforcing drink driving countermeasures and securing access to screening, brief interventions, and treatment are effective and ethically sound interventions. The most cost-effective interventions are at the focus of WHO-led SAFER initiative aimed at providing support for Member States in reducing the harmful use of alcohol. Both the volume of lifetime alcohol use and a combination of context, frequency of alcohol consumption and amount consumed per occasion increase the risk of the wide range of health and social harms. The risks increase largely in a dose-dependent manner with the volume of alcohol consumed and with frequency of drinking, and exponentially with the amount consumed on a single occasion. Surrogate and illegally produced alcohols can bring an extra health risk from toxic contaminants. Examples of medical conditions for which it’s safest to avoid drinking include liver disease (such as from hepatitis C), bipolar disorder, abnormal heart rhythm, and chronic pain.
Alcohol use can damage the hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Some studies have found that even light or moderate drinking can lead to some deterioration of the hippocampus. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start because of potential health benefits.