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The effects alcohol has on the body


The Brain

Alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system, interfering with the brain’s communication pathways. This occurs by the penetration of the blood brain barrier, which usually slows down the passage of some drugs or harmful substances from the blood into the central nervous system.

Alcohol causes disruptions which can change the mood or behavior of a person and make it harder for them to think more clearly. It is these changes in the central nervous system that alters speech, slows or delays reactions, brings on a foggy memory and impaired vision, all of which can be evident after a night of heavy drinking.

The heart

Alcohol increases the risk of heart disease in many drinkers. According to one report two drinks per day is enough to increase the risk of death from heart disease. Large amounts of alcohol can affect how the heart functions, if the heart is not pumping blood effectively around the body then other organs may suffer as a result.

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can also aggravate heart conditions such and cardiomyopathy (the stretch of the heart muscle), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and may even lead to high blood pressure and strokes.

The Liver

As a main organ that processes alcohol the liver is majorly affected by the excessive consumption of alcohol. Drinking in excess over the years can result in liver damage including steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis and fibrosis.

Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious disease which occurs when scar tissue replaces normal healthy tissue and the liver, which needs unrestricted blood flow, doesn’t work correctly.


Recent meta-analysis found that there was an increased risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx; oesophagus; larynx; breast; liver; colon; and rectum with the intake of around 3 alcoholic drinks per day.

Digestive system

Alcohol is not digested like other food or beverages; it bypasses the normal process and goes straight to the blood stream. 20% of alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and 80% in the small intestine.

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause damage to these organs. Alcohol also interferes with the endocrine system affecting how the body absorbs calcium, meaning heavy drinkers will have an increased risk of osteoporosis, which can lead to a decline in bone density making fractures more common.

Immune System

Heavy drinking over long periods of time or binge drinking will slow down your body’s ability to ward off infection. Over time chronic drinkers are more susceptible to contract pneumonia and tuberculosis than those who do not drink in excess.


A Danish study found that even a small amount of alcohol can affect ones fertility.


A pregnant woman exposed to alcohol is at risk of her baby developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Alcohol crosses through the placenta and can have devastating affects on the baby.

Stunt growth or weight, distinctive facial defects, heart and genital defects and damage to the structure of the nervous system are all results of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Drinking throughout pregnancy can also result in the child having psychological or behavioral problems.


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