Drinking alcohol consistently can have huge effects on a person’s body and health. While many enjoy the taste of a refreshing tipple, alcohol is a ‘poison’, and hangovers symptoms hit hardest when the alcohol levels in the body have dropped to zero. The body is more than equipped to cope with the odd binge, but anything more than this, especially for prolonged periods, can have serious effects, according to Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient. He said: “Drinking long-term can increase the risk of cancer of the liver, mouth, throat, voice box, oesophagus, colon, and rectum.
“Even a few drinks a week is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.”
Dr Thornber lists six health problems prolonged drinking is linked to:
Dr Thornber said: “Heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and in very severe cases, sudden death from heart failure.
Alcohol is calorific and high in sugar, and if you drink every day for a month the impact on your waist line will be visible, warned Dr Thornber.
He added: “Excess weight gain can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure – amongst numerous other health related conditions.”
Being drunk increases the chance of having unsafe sex. Dr Thornber explained: “This can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unplanned pregnancy.”
Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes the kidneys to produce more urine, says Dr Thornber.
He added: “This, alone or with vomiting, can lead to dehydration and dangerously low levels of sodium, potassium and other minerals and salts.”
“Just one single session of heavy alcohol use can lead to dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia),” said Dr Thornber. “So more than that can put huge pressure on the pancreas.”
Lack of vitamin B
Absorption of vitamin B12 from beef, dairy and eggs can be particularly affected by alcohol, and signs of deficiency include tiredness, breathlessness, headaches, pale skin and heart palpitations.
Dr Thornber explained: “A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to build-up of a compound called homocysteine, which in the long term could lead to heart attack and stroke.”